San Francisco State University’s College of Ethnic Studies may be in jeopardy of losing its funding. The word “may” is important because very little has been clarified by the school’s administration, but rumors are in wide circulation.
The dean of the college announced that major cuts will be taking place, as Nicholas Martinez, president of the Ethnic Studies Student Organization, has reported. Martinez is in the dark though as to what this could mean for the college and its accessory student organization, as well as the Student Resource and Empowerment Center. Talks of cutting as much as 40 percent of the college’s lecturers and other valuable staff members have brought students together to draft lists of questions and potential demands.
The College of Ethnic Studies administers courses across the curriculums of Asian American Studies, Africana Studies, Latino/ Latina Studies, and Race and Resistance Studies. Offering 175 courses and currently serving 6,000 students, the college plays a very important role in the campus’ student dynamic. Acting as a safe place where many people of color and mixed descent can lay their academic foundations, the college was founded to bridge a massive gap in racial representation between accepted versus rejected students, faculty/ staff, and curriculum.
Today the university is well-balanced in this respect: African American students represent 5.5 percent of the school’s population, Asians are 34.8 percent, Chicano/Mexican Americans tally 16.9 percent, and Latinos 8.4 percent. With such diversity, the Ethnic Studies College plays an invaluable role on campus, and in no way is it becoming less necessary to the school.
Many who have found their way to Ethnic Studies have made it a home and place from which to grow and to give back. The Resource and Empowerment Center is primarily student-run and educates other students on a campus-wide basis. The center offers internship opportunities, scholarship and grant seeking education, workshops and organized campus tours for high school students and workshops on feminism. Budget cuts that threaten the jobs of faculty would also threaten the continuation of the Student Resource and Empowerment Center, as the students need an academic advisor in order to operate.
Martinez said the students of Ethnic Studies feel betrayed. SF State houses the very first College of Ethnic Studies in the country and it took the longest student protest in history to establish. The students are dedicated and highly active within their fields, which has been recognized by the university’s administration.
Martinez highlighted the fact that the university, which has often praised the students reminding them how wonderful their work is, is now completely confusing them. Recent alumni are outraged and questioning how this move might affect the representation of their degrees, and if perhaps their time was wasted, as the university’s actions show a lack of respect for the college. Until the university makes an official statement though, students will be unanswered and unsettled.