Statement From Former Doc TA

1 May 2007


I am writing to support the Lumumba-Zapata Coalition
(LZC) and their efforts to restore the DOC program
curriculum to its original founding principles. I
myself was once a Teaching Assistant at DOC and had
seen the dramatic and detrimental changes that program
directors have implemented in the curriculum. The
ouster of dedicated Teaching Assistants such as
Benjamin Balthaser and Scott Boehm is symptomatic of a
continually increasing failure of the program
administration to adequately meet the radical history
of the founding of Third College
(Lumumba-Zapata/Thurgood Marshall) and the promise of
the college’s mission to provide an intellectual and
social home for underprivileged, disenfranchised, and
minority students.

After two full years of being deeply invested in the
DOC program, I myself had been pushed out of my
teaching position as the Senior TA of the DOC program
in Fall 2002 when I forcefully raised questions
regarding the change in curriculum and the program’s
irresponsibility and negligence in hiring faculty and
teaching assistants who were not trained in any way in
Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies,
or American Studies. The change in curriculum came as
a shock to me especially since I was working with
program directors in the summer with a syllabus that
still represented readings that covered issues
regarding identity formation and the introduction of
concepts such as race, class, gender, sexuality, and
intersectionality. However, weeks before the
beginning of the fall, the syllabus had changed
completely so that foundational readings such as those
by Stuart Hall, George Lipsitz, and Yen Le Espiriu had
been removed and replaced with readings that were
fundamentally contrary to the original goals of the
DOC program. One such reading promoted the notion of
“downward assimilation”, a concept that argued that if
new immigrant groups intend to successfully
“Americanize” or assimilate, certain groups should be
avoided. More specifically, the article actually
argues that certain groups such as Haitian blacks in
Florida and Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles are the
very groups that new immigrants should avoid any form
of association or contact with in order to assure
“success” in the U.S. When teaching assistants asked
for an open dialogue regarding this selection, the
faculty member hired to compile the coursereader for
the quarter admitted that he himself had not even read
the article and thought that he could just deal with
it when the quarter came. Needless to say that this
is one of the many examples of the DOC program
directors’ growing lack of investment in faculty

In addition, rather than agreeing to an open dialogue
regarding teaching assistant objections to the
curriculum and teaching assistant concerns for student
learning, program administrators only supported
faculty members and began a process of alienating
select teaching assistants. When I had asked to meet
with program directors with the presence of my union
representative, they had replied that they would like
to have a conversation with me but without my union
representative and instead call in a campus
psychologist to be present at the meeting. As such,
program directors constitute any form of critical
inquiry or discussion about DOC as a “personal”
problem that a TA is having at that moment, or as
Assistant Director Pam Wright told me, that I was just
in fact, “having a bad week”. My serious dedication
to the original program curriculum and my commitment
and investment to student intellectual development and
social welfare had been reduced and trivialized in
favor of perpetuating what the program directors saw
fit without input from concerned and experienced
teaching assistants. Even more significantly, I could
not help but feel that I had been marked as a
“troublemaker” and been dismissed on the basis of
being a “stereotypical” “angry woman of color”. After
I had been given my final “interview” where I had to
agree to leave the program, I attempted to contact
then-provost Cecil Lytle regarding my experience at
DOC. I do not know under what circumstances my email
went unanswered, but I no longer had faith that my
concerns would be heard by any member of Marshall

DOC can no longer continue to be run by an
administration unfit and unqualified to address social
justice issues within the university system. Support
the LZC coalition and advocate the return of DOC to
its original curriculum principles. Help Third College
renew its historic commitment to social justice and
social change.


Margaret Fajardo, Ph.D. Candidate
Literature, UCSD

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