SF State has been in turmoil since it was announced last week that the historic College of Ethnic Studies would face budgetary restrictions in the coming fiscal year.
Students and faculty presented President Leslie E. Wong with a list of demands, marched in protest and held several meetings to develop a strategy to fight any reduction in spending for the College.
Wong, for his part, said that the administration will not ask the College of Ethnic Studies to cut its spending in the coming fiscal year, and emailed a statement to students and faculty that he was looking into the viability of their demands. None of this, however, secures the financial future of the College.
That Ethnic Studies, already the smallest college at SF State, was asked to go on a budgetary diet in a time of serious racial turmoil in the U.S. is problematic, to say the least.
In a cultural landscape riddled with racial strife and resentment, SF State’s College of Ethnic Studies plays a crucial role in illuminating the continued fractures that plague the U.S. and helping to heal the racial divide. Because we’ve virtually eliminated specific legal forms of discrimination, it’s easy for people, particularly white Americans, to write off racism as a thing of the past.
Furthermore, it is important to preserve the cultural narratives that permeate our history. These are stories that are not often told in standard history classes, but are integral to understanding the foundation of our nation.
A National Bureau of Economic Research study found that students who enrolled in ethnic studies classes had higher attendance rates and GPAs. These courses benefit students on a personal and societal level. Talking about our cultural and racial differences and the systemic biases that still exist against people of color is essential to the development of our society.
Last Thursday, officials said that they allocated $3.6 million to the College this year, nearly $2 million less than the Graduate School of Education received, despite the fact that Ethnic Studies has 30 percent more students.
It is essential that SF State continues to fully support the unique programs and legacy that the College of Ethnic Studies offers to students going forward.