February 20, 2013
Dear Chicana/o Studies Department de CSULA,
The purpose of this letter is to share student concerns and grievances regarding the status of Chicana/o Studies at Cal State L.A. As Chicana/o Studies students (majors and minors), our concerns and grievances fall under your purview and we respectfully ask that you reflect on our concerns so that immediate action be taken to remedy all of our needs.
As Chicana/o Studies students, we understand the rigorous requirements of the university and clearly comprehend the expectations of students. Moreover, we have been adequately prepared by Chicana/o Studies to succeed in any environment. Per the Chicana/o Studies Advisement Syllabus (available online), the expected student learning outcomes include:
- Students will understand their personal responsibility for their own academic, personal and professional success.
- Students will understand what they need to do to complete the requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in Mexican American Studies.
- Students will have an awareness of how to ACCESS AND UTILIZE the necessary information, resources, and available options to make sound educational and lifelong decisions.
MEChA de CSULA strongly asserts the above student learning outcomes and can substantiate the fact that Chicana/o Studies students take these learning outcomes very seriously. In our view, however, we have failed to observe a similar expected professor learning outcome in any of the Chicana/o Studies writings online or otherwise, which would give Chicana/o Studies students a sense that our professors are in solidarity with the students they purport to educate.
Despite the fact that Chicana/o Studies students at Cal State L.A. have continued to uphold the legacy of struggle and the rigorous academic tradition of Chicana/o Studies as stated within the student learning outcomes and beyond, it is becoming apparent to MEChA de CSULA that the administrative aspect of Chicana/o Studies has failed to uphold its goals of advocating for Chicana/o Studies students. MEChA de CSULA acknowledges the fact that Chicana/o Studies has suffered from decades of institutional racism and oppression, which emanates from a historical indifference by Cal State L.A. and the CSU system towards the largest recognized national minority on campus, the Chicana/o community.
While we understand the institutional racist structures in place, MEChA de CSULA also recognizes that Chicana/o Studies has remained silent on many issues impacting students. The lack of Chicana/o Studies accountability is a disservice to those students who created the department in 1968 on behalf of the community. If Chicana/o Studies has raised concerns in recent years, then, it has failed to work collaboratively in securing student and community input and support.
Through a non-quantitative and non-qualitative survey of Chicana/o Studies students, MEChA de CSULA has learned that critically needed courses are not being offered, are offered only once during an academic year, or are offered simultaneously with other courses, which consequently prohibit students from graduating in a timely manner. MEChA de CSULA finds this situation unacceptable and is compelled to raise its voice to address the institutional neglect of Cal State L.A. and the complicity of Chicana/o Studies for its failure to remedy this blatant racist institutional practice of maintaining Chicana/o Studies in a state of flux. Since its founding in 1968, Chicana/o Studies has maintained a direct connection with the surrounding community be it through local schools and community advocacy organizations.
Yet, it is apparent that Chicana/o Studies has shifted its emphasis to other things that are not readily apparent to the students nor the community. Chicana/o Studies at Cal State L.A. has a long history of struggle and we find ourselves in the midst of another critical moment in the history of the department. The future of Chicana/o Studies is in present moment an unstable program, especially if courses for students are not being offered or are limited due to “budget cutbacks.”
MEChA de CSULA is here to strengthen the idea that Chicano Studies is a non-traditional and single subject academic unit proposed and created by the Chicana/o community to address the educational, economic and cultural inequities, historically found in Cal State L.A., CSU system and in higher education. MEChA de CSULA reaffirms the Chicana/o community’s history of advocacy and struggle to develop and maintain cultural sovereign Chicano Studies programs in which our culture, history, language, religion, customs and traditions are rooted.
It is important to remember that Chicanas and Chicanos have protective rights that maintain, promote and adhere to the civil, political, and linguistic cultural, and spiritual collective rights as a national minority under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (article 27, Ratified in 1976 by U.S.A. Senate), Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), Anti-Genocide Treaty (U.N. 1948, U.N. 1951- Ratified 1988 by U.S.A. Senate), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966 not ratified), and Supreme Court decision Corpus Christi Independent School District vs. Cisneros, 1971 (Mexican Americans are a national minority entitled to the 1964 Civil Rights Protections).
As the Winter Quarter comes to a conclusion, we think its important that you are made aware of the situation in the hopes that it can be mitigated in the future for Chicana/o Studies students who are seeking to graduate in a timely manner but to empower their community. We respectfully request to meet with you before the conclusion of the Winter Quarter (Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 8:30am in the department office) to begin an honest dialogue with the Department of Chicana/o Studies at Cal State L.A.
MEChA de CSULA