Save DOC: Lumumba-Zapata Coalition Revived!

Please read and widely circulate the following message:
(Copy and paste our website address linked to this page- posted 4/25/2007)

Dear Friend,

Thurgood Marshall College (TMC) at UCSD has
historically been a site of critical pedagogy that
challenged the status quo and advocated racial equity
and social justice on campus and within the San Diego
community. In recent years, the college has taken
significant steps away from honoring those
commitments, which is particularly evident in the
management of its undergraduate core sequence, the
Dimensions of Culture program (DOC). Originally
conceived as a critique of mainstream U.S. society in
the early 1990s, for many years the course provided a
critical lens through which students were challenged
to consider issues of class, race, gender and
sexuality in contemporary culture and U.S. history.
Over the past seven years—and especially since
2005—DOC has lost its critical edge and become largely
incoherent, placing little emphasis on the historic
ideals of the college and the stated mission of the
DOC program. In response, the Lumumba-Zapata
Coalition (LZC), named in honor of the student,
faculty and community movement that was fundamental to
the founding of TMC in the 1960s, and which included
such notable scholars as Angela Davis, Herbert Marcuse
and Carlos Blanco, is currently campaigning to make
significant changes to how the DOC program operates
and what is taught in the curriculum. On April 13th,
the LZC presented the attached list of demands to the
Provost of TMC and asked for a public meeting in two
weeks time to discuss them. Two weeks later, and after
further consultation, the Provost refuses to hold such
a meeting.

Faculty members, lecturers and teaching assistants who
have criticized the disturbing trends at TMC and in
the DOC program have been systematically removed
through strong-armed harassment and intimidation
techniques designed to stifle dissent and chill campus
debate about DOC and TMC in general. The most recent
example of this occurred just this Tuesday when two
long-time TAs were dismissed from the program. The
one-year contracts of Benjamin Balthaser and Scott
Boehm have not been renewed for the upcoming academic
year after a series of unprecedented interviews for
current TAs that we have strong reason to believe were
manufactured to push out them out of the program.

During their interviews, they were told that they were
“undermining” the program by their involvement in the
academic and political life of UCSD, and that their
teaching performance had nothing to do with their
dismissal. In fact, both are experienced TAs with
outstanding evaluations, and Boehm received one of two
teaching awards from the program last year. This is a
clear violation of the rights of teaching assistants
and graduate students to engage in free speech and
debate on a university campus. The DOC administration
is using strong-armed intimidation techniques to
silence widely felt dissent about the direction of the
DOC program and TMC as a whole.

Balthaser and Boehm are founding members of the
Lumumba-Zapata Coalition, which in addition to
addressing problems with TMC and DOC is now also
protesting their unjust treatment upon the grounds
that it is a clear violation of their free speech
rights as members of a university community. In order
to achieve our goals and to put pressure on the
Provost to hold a public meeting with the LZC about
TMC and DOC, we are sending you this letter hoping
that you will offer your support.

The following organizations have already endorsed our

UCSD Office of Instructional Support and Instructional
Services (OASIS)
UCSD Cross Cultural Center
UCSD Chicano/Latino Concilio
UCSD Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanola de Aztlán
UCSD Black Student Union
UCSD Asian and Pacific Islander Student Alliance
UCSD Muslim Student Association
UCSD Raza Graduate Student Association
UCSD Kaibigang Pilipino
UCSD Native American Alumni Association
UCSD Students with Disabilities Coalition
UCSD Students and Scholars Mobilized Against
Repressive Times (SMART)
Project YANO (Youth and Non-Military Opportunities)

There are several ways that you can help make our
campaign a success:

1) Please read the attached list of demands and
circulate them and this letter among colleagues and
fellow students that you think would be supportive.
This is not an isolated issue specific to UCSD, but a
dangerous precedent for all college campuses. Help us
spread the word!
Click here for the demands:Lumumba-Zapata Coalition Demands

2) If you would like to endorse the demands as an
individual, please copy and paste the following into
an e-mail message with “LZC Endorsement” in the
subject line and send it along with any additional
personal comments to our coalition
moc.liamg|atapazabmumul#moc.liamg|atapazabmumul, to the TMC Provost
ude.dscu|sivaha#ude.dscu|sivaha, and to the UCSD Associate
Vice-Chancellor of Undergraduate Education

“I endorse the Lumumba-Zapata Coalition’s list of
demands, and ask that the Provost of Thurgood Marshall
College agree to their request for a public meeting
about recent changes to the Dimensions of Culture
program. I also condemn the intimidation, harassment
and dismissal of teaching assistants who raise
questions about the direction of the program, which is
antithetical to the goals of higher education, and a
serious violation of free speech rights and academic
freedom as understood in its broadest sense. On those
grounds, I advocate for the immediate reinstatement of
Benjamin Balthaser and Scott Boehm as teaching
assistants in the DOC program.”

2) If you are part of an organization that might want
to endorse the LZC demands, please circulate them
among your members and consider drafting a statement
stating why the organization chooses to endorse them.
Please e-mail such endorsements to
moc.liamg|atapazabmumul#moc.liamg|atapazabmumul, to the TMC Provost
ude.dscu|sivaha#ude.dscu|sivaha, and the UCSD Associate
Vice-Chancellor of Undergraduate Education

3) Call or e-mail any or all of the following people
in order to voice your concerns:

Alan Havis, Thurgood Marshall College Provost
(858) 534-4002

Mark Appelbaum, UCSD Associate Vice-Chancellor of
Undergraduate Education
(858) 534-7959

Marye Anne Fox, UCSD Chancellor
(858) 534-3135

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