UCSD Guardian

Dissenting TAs Ousted from D.O.C. Program
Tutors dismissed after criticizing the writing program for having
narrow views of social injustice.

By Christopher Stuhrenberg
The Guardian (UCSD)
Staff Writer

April 30, 2007 — Two Thurgood Marshall College Dimensions of Culture
teaching assistants were declined renewal of their yearly contracts
following their open and adamant criticisms of the writing program.

D.O.C. program Director Abraham Shragge cited Scott Boehm and
Benjamin Balthaser's unwillingness to teach the course as it is
currently designed as one of the major reasons for not renewing their
contracts.

"They had not been teaching the course as we had asked, according to
the syllabus and according to the rules we set down," Shragge said.

Boehm and Balthaser are members of the Lumumba-Zapata Coalition, an
organization of faculty, staff, TAs, graduate students and
undergraduates created this year with the explicit purpose of
changing the program to better represent, according to the group's
standards, its original purpose and mission.

D.O.C. was created to challenge students to question assumptions
about race, ethnicity and gender. But according to Boehm and
Balthaser, the program has become uncritical and patriotic, while
failing to adequately investigate past social injustices.

"[The D.O.C. program] has been significantly watered down," Balthaser
said. "The faculty has radically changed, the key readings have
radically changed, the writing prompt also radically changed."

Changes made to the D.O.C. program, assert LZC members, endanger the
integrity of Marshall's commitment to goals such as social justice
and racial equality.

On April 13, the LZC presented a list of demands to Marshall Provost
Alan Havis, calling for a number of alterations to the D.O.C. program.

One of the main changes the LZC hopes to institute is the creation of
a D.O.C. advisory committee to be established by the end of May 2007.

The proposed committee would include two TMC Student Council officers
and two Student Affirmative Action Committee officers as well as four
TAs and four UCSD faculty members not from D.O.C., but whose academic
work pertains to the program's curriculum, such as critical race
theory, ethnic studies, critical gender studies and American studies,
among others. The committee would serve as an independent reviewing
body of the current program in order to suggest changes to the
provost and D.O.C. director about course curriculum and the hiring,
recruitment strategies and retention of teaching staff.

Also included in the list of demands is a return to the principles of
the original D.O.C. plan and curriculum. The LZC said this could be
achieved through several means, namely by hiring more staff, faculty
and TAs whose academic training suits the D.O.C. program, and
recruiting more minorities. The demands also included stopping the
militarization of D.O.C. curriculum and tailoring the extracurricular
activities of Marshall and D.O.C. to their respective histories and
principles. Finally, the LZC called for the cessation of the
intimidation and harassment of staff who raise concerns and challenge
the direction of the D.O.C. program.

Shragge, however, insisted that D.O.C. has not drifted from its
original mission.

"Thurgood Marshall College, from the very beginning, has been
dedicated to the ideals of the scholar and citizen, knowledge to
action, social justice, equal rights, equality of citizenship,"
Shragge said. "I very strongly believe neither the college nor the
program has strayed from its purpose."

Havis offered to continue talks with Boehm and Balthaser, but said in
an e-mail that Marshall "continues to exemplify 'scholar and citizen'
symbolism and a far-reaching inclusive social vision toward
egalitarian life and full societal justice."

The LZC said that numerous organizations such as the Cross Cultural
Center, the Black Student Union, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanola de
Aztlan, Native American Alumni Association, Asian and Pacific
Islander Student Alliance, Students with Disabilities Coalition and
Muslim Student Association, among others, have endorsed their efforts.

Shragge said he has not been approached by the organizations listed
by the LZC concerning this issue.

"Nobody has come to me," he said.

The LZC plans to hold a demonstration May 3 at 11:45 a.m. in front of
the Marshall administration building to instruct students about
Marshall and D.O.C. history while voicing opposition to the current
direction of the program.

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