Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Solidarity Social this Thursday!

This event is intended to provide a space for people from multiple activist groups on campus (and for those currently unaffiliated) to come together and do something besides have meetings. Hopefully we can all get together and hang out, network, and have fun.

Please invite anyone you think might be interested.

Also feel free to bring food items, so far there is a possibility of pizza and curry.

(Sign up for the social on Facebook)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

School of Humanities' Response to the "'Needs Attention' Plans"

SOH Response to NA(1)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Have We Protected Poor Students from Debt?

(Via Remaking the University)

By Chris Newfield

Administrative hand-wringing over access has been focused on the giant hole in the income donut where dwell "middle class" students with family incomes of between around $80,000 and $150,000 per year. For example, UC President Mark Yudof recently assured the anti-tax California Chamber of Commerce that UC's Blue and Gold plan makes UC tuition free for all students with family incomes under $80,000, effectively covered the $1890 tuition increase in 2011-2012 for families making under $120,000, and in general makes average net tuition at UC only $4000, or about a third of the current sticker price. In December, UC Berkeley announced a Middle Class Access Plan (MCAP), designed to help those same Middle Earth students with family incomes in the $80,000-140,000 donut hole.

So why, when I was at UC Riverside to give a budget talk three weeks ago, were students trying to show the Regents signs like this:

Here's the simple picture that illustrates the problem:

This chart is from the College Board's Trends in Student Aid 2011. It shows that low-income students borrow almost as much as do middle-class students. Low-income Pell Grant students, who in some accounts have it good, in 2008 "had an average debt of $24,800 — nearly $2,000 more than the average for all seniors graduating with loans." The authors of Crossing the Finish Line, with their uniquely comprehensive data base, confirm this pattern, and show that students from the bottom income quartile increase their annual borrowing by 50% from their first to their last year in college (chapter 9). Low-income students are going broke as fast as middle-income students. Actually, given their lower income base, they're going broke even faster.

What about all that grant income that supposedly waft poor students along? It doesn't close the funding gap between financial aid for tuition and related expenses and the overall cost of attendance. As background, take Berkeley's MCAP plan, which estimates Berkeley's cost of attendance as $32,000 per year. In the new scheme, a student from a family grossing $80,000 pays net tuition of $8000, and then family contributes a maximum of 15% of their gross income or $12,000. The university comes up with the missing $12,000 ($4000 coming from the existing return-to-aid program), But the student and her family still pay $20,000 a year, or a quarter of their gross income. This will require the borrowing that appears in the College Board's data.

2010 median family income in California was not quite $55,000 in 2010 (slide 9). Let's say that a student from this median family -- still not technically poor -- gets all tuition covered through a partial Pell Grant combined with a Cal Grant (at least until Jerry Brown messes with it again). This saves another $8000. This student and her median family then need to find $12,000 per year. Factor in this family's net income in relation to California mortgage or rent costs, plus just one other child in the family, and the family's capacity to contribute disposible incomerapidly approaches zero. A student borrowing $4000-5000 per year for four or five years will easily rack up the total debt seen in the chart. UC President Mark Yudof recently noted the debt figure for UC is close to $20,000.

When public university officials claim that access for low-income students is guaranteed by grants, they wrongly lowball the overall access problem. This may have the bad effect of reducing public interest in fixing the whole access problem.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The EVC's Measures of Qualities Memo

Here is another document that was presented on June 11, 2012 in a meeting with the School of Humanities. The document is called "Budget Reduction Memo" and it was sent from the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Michael Gottfredson's office. This document is dated last June and re-distributed by then School of Humanities Dean, Vicki L. Ruiz in October. It pertains to cuts Gottfredson passed down last spring, in other words, cuts that started to be implemented in 2011-2012 and that he stresses are "permanent." It makes clear that the cuts are differently--widely differently--distributed, and notes that Athletics was given no cut. It also shows the breakdown of votes that the individual members of the Academic Planning group and the Budget group conducted on whether a unit should be on the "Needs Attention" list or not. Budget Reduction Memo.2011-2012.Humanities 20110720171641-1

School of Humanities Departments Veto Language Requirements

Our comrades from the Spanish & Portuguese department held their last meeting a couple of weeks ago. The Grad Student meeting revealed that there will be changes in the language requirement:

Departments are now free to decide what their language requirement will be since school wide requirements have been stopped.

English majors will still have to take another language (good, b/c English is 40% of total enrollment in Humanities, they total 900 majors).

The Departments of Art History, Philosophy, Visual studies, Film and Media will all reject language requirements.

History is still undecided about the language requirement as of last faculty meeting on 1/11.

Spanish is expected to lose 10% of enrollment in undergrad courses as a result of these Humanities departments' decision to do away with the requirement.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Come Out to the Humanities Quad and Make a T-Shirt

T-Shirt Stencil Painting Party Extravaganza : 

February 7, 8 and 9, Noon to ??? Gather in the courtyard between Humanities Hall and Murray Krieger Hall Or Underneath Humanities Gateway if Raining. Bring your own t-shirt - stencils and fabric paint will be provided.

How UC Privatization Intensifies Class & Race Inequalities

(Via Reclaim UC)
Privatization Inequality

Monday, February 6, 2012

Death of Public Education: A Performance

Notes: "On last Friday"

By Tetsuro Namba

On Friday, February 3rd, a group of us went to KUCI hoping to have our voice included on Countdown UCI’s radio interview with Chancellor Drake. We weren’t invited, but we had heard that the host, Dmitriy, was someone who does not shy away from conflict and controversy. The chancellor is making an active effort to address student concerns and the student body, we thought. The chancellor is willing to have a conversation. The radio show that invited him had a reputation for controversy. Perfect, we thought, a perfect opportunity to address the administration, to ask some hard-hitting questions and to get some honest answers.

Of course, things did not go perfectly. We showed up a bit late, after the chancellor was already in the booth. So instead, we asked to be let in. We asked to speak to the station manager. We asked if we could send a single representative to the interview. We asked and asked, and we were met with apathy, avoidance and aggression on the part of the staff. It’s not their fault—we understand—but at that moment KUCI, a student organization dedicated solely to sweet tunes and free speech, suddenly became, for us, an inaccessible fortress. We were thrown into confusion.

Can we actually see the chancellor? Should we try to open a window? Who is the station manager? Is the booth sound-proof? What are the rules and guidelines here? Some of us, bored, simply started shouting and chanting at anything and everything. Some of us, yes, climbed on the roof. Some of us tried calling the station. How could we get their attention? How could we ask to have our voices heard?

KUCI is an amazing station. Furthermore, that Chancellor Drake was willing to face student concerns in a public forum signaled, to us, an openness on the part of administration that we found surprisingly refreshing. Perhaps the years of loud protest and student agitation had finally convinced the administration that we had serious concerns about the future of our school. Perhaps we would be return to our model plan of shared governance, of a democratic institution. Perhaps this time Drake would not wave vaguely, look away quickly, and run off immediately as he had the last time I said, “Hello, chancellor.”

Of course, by this time we had realized that we were not going to get into the station. We realized that we were simply harassing students and staff, only making them angry and making us feel frustrated. So, waiting by the front door for the chancellor to finish, we decided to settle down to listen to the interview, taking notes and forming questions. For us, his responses during the interview generated more questions than answers. We planned to meet him on the way out, when we could ask him our questions and voice our concerns. Perhaps we could ask him for further opportunities to continue a dialogue.

Now, let me take a minute to describe who we were. There were less than twenty of us. We had more signs than we had bodies to hold them. And those of us who were there—let’s be honest—are not large, intimidating people. There were two or three tall-ish men, but for the most part, we’re a group of short and scrawny people. Add that to the fact that most of us grew up constantly reading books to the detriment of our social skills, and you have a small group of awkward UCI students with handmade signs. We’re not a threatening group and, honestly, we’re not too articulate under pressure. One of our biggest concerns was that Chancellor Drake would be able to immediately answer our questions with charm and charisma. After all, Chancellor Drake’s job is to present our institution in the most favorable light possible. You could even call him a politician. But regardless, Drake is paid—and is paid well—for his public speaking skills. We assumed that we would be rhetorically outclassed. But we were willing to make fools of ourselves nonetheless.

So you can imagine our surprise and confusion when Chancellor Drake did not leave through the front door, avoiding us as a group of students with legitimate concerns worth addressing. Rather, he chose to sneak out by a circuitous route through the weeds and dirt, into the ratty alley between the trailers to get to his BMW less than 15 feet from where we were. It was at this point that we realized that Chancellor Drake was not interested in serious dialogue: sneaking out like a naughty student playing hooky indicated to us that he was unprepared to answer our questions. We knew then that the interview was not a sincere attempt at real dialogue, but more bullshit PR. We knew then that he was afraid of us, and this baffled us and worried us because we consistently feel minor and ineffective, insignificant and unheard. But they had called out four or five police cars to escort the chancellor! The administration is apparently afraid of a handful of unorganized student activists. Though we felt as though we were just a group of friends with homemade signs, they clearly saw us as a serious threat for reasons unclear to us. And with Chancellor Drake trying to sneak away, we did what any frustrated, shocked and confused group of concerned students would do: we chased after him, asking questions.

The rest, if you watch the videos, was a funny little mess that proves just how much the administration instinctively avoids student concerns, and proves just how utterly insincere our chancellor is.

Raw Data: UC System enrollment by Income 1994-2009

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Comparative Literature's Official Response to "Needs Attention" Designation

24 January 2012


Vicki Ruiz, Dean, School of Humanities
James Steintrager, Acting Dean, School of Humanities
Michael Gottfredson, EVC/Provost

RE: Department of Comparative Literature Response to “Needs Attention” Designation

The department understands that severe budget cuts require aggressive measures, and the focus on undergraduate enrollment makes sense, especially where the aim is to attract new students rather than to redistribute the existing population. Comparative Literature programs nationally and historically have been small, but we are directing our curricular and teaching energies toward increasing enrollments, and in fact have been doing so diligently over the past several years as we discuss below. We need to begin our response by clarifying the record on which the current assessment was based.

Several “Needs Attention” SOH departments have pointed out inconsistencies in the metrics of the recent review: their application and interpretation. Our department’s numbers also need to be reconsidered for reasons specific to our program. The Department of Comparative Literature has the good fortune to serve as the academic home for a number of prestigious faculty who have been brought to UCI to head high profile research units. David Goldberg, for example, leads the system-wide Humanities Research Institute. Ngugi wa Thiong’o was hired in 2002 to direct the International Center for Writing and Translation. And Nasrin Rahimieh came to UCI in 2006 to head the new Samuel Jordan Center of Persian Studies and Culture. The department also includes a Distinguished Professor (Gabrielle Schwab), the editor of Postmodern Culture (Eyal Amiran), and the Campus Writing Coordinator from 2001-07 (Susan Jarratt). In the case of each of these faculty members, a special assignment has meant a reduced teaching load so that, in a department of 11/12 members, almost half devote considerable time to administrative obligations. Goldberg, for example, has no teaching responsibilities (though he teaches a graduate seminar on occasion). Others have reduced course loads through contractual arrangements.

These faculty and their centers bring considerable notice, millions of dollars in external funding, and intellectual vibrancy to the School. That Comparative Literature has been the department of choice for such dynamic faculty and programs is very much to our credit. We find, however, that a metrical calculation of student credit hours that does not take into account these special arrangements misrepresents the department’s labor. The chart on p. 2 of the Nov. 15th memo lists Comp Lit’s filled faculty FTE at 11.75. If administrative assignments had been taken into account, this figure would be closer to 9. A recalculation on this basis puts our Total Majors per Filled FTE closer to 10, rather than the 6.61 listed on the memo, and would adjust the SCH per FTE accordingly.

Any statistical profile is a snapshot of a program in process. From our inception in 2004 as a stand-alone department, Comparative Literature has been very active in building our undergraduate program and has increased our majors since then (currently 42). Early on, we negotiated with English to establish courses that would serve as electives for their majors and have been offering these on a regular basis. In 2006 and again in 2010-11, we revised our curriculum so as to create three tracks for majors based on our knowledge of the interests and career paths for students in the Humanities: World Literature (for future teachers), Comparative Literature (for students headed to graduate school), and Cultural Studies (for students with broad interdisciplinary aims).

Over the past few years, Comparative Literature has been working closely with the Associate Deans of Undergraduate Education in the School to respond to the need for larger enrollment courses. We’ve created appealing topics, participated in cross-disciplinary teaching opportunities (FIP and Hum Core), and cross-listed our courses with high-enrollment departments (e.g., English, History, and Film and Media Studies). Judging that cultural studies and world literature may be two areas of wide appeal, we’ve created new lower-division, Gen Ed courses to tap interests of students across campus. This quarter (Winter 2012) CL 10 (GE IV and VIII), Comics and Superheroes (Amiran), enrolled 97 students. (Requests for the course approached 200, but we were restricted to an enrollment of 97 by the room size.) CL 10 (GE IV and VIII), Masterpieces of World Literature, will be taught by Jane O. Newman in fall 2012. The department has submitted a Letter of Intent to develop this course as an online offering to UC and Non-UC students under the Wave II UCOP initiative.

Higher enrollment courses in recent years have included the following:

FIP: Consciousness (Terada), 2009-10, 71 students FIP: Persuasion and Social Change (Jarratt; Newman), 2009-10, 66 students FIP: Consciousness (Amiran), 2011-12, 72 students CL 141, Golden Age Comics (Amiran), spring 2010, 52 students CL 100A, African Literature (Ngugi), fall 2010, 67 students CL 105, Comparative Multiculturalism (Schlichter), fall 2010, 63 students CL 102, Melodrama (Terada), winter 2011, 57 students CL 160, Latin American Film (Johnson), spring 2011, 60 students CL 160, Hong Kong/Chinese Cinema (Abbas), fall 2011, 78 students Humanities Core Course, Declarations in Dialogue (Jarratt), winter quarters, 2010-13, approx. 900 students

Comparative Literature has been actively building its capacity to offer undergraduates a rigorous education in critical cultural competencies—a kind of education that will prepare them to be active global citizens in a diverse world. We value highly the pedagogies that enable students to learn to speak and write powerfully in multiple languages, to interpret complex cultural messages and act thoughtfully in a world filled with ethical dilemmas. The multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-literate education we offer in Comparative Literature prepares students for advanced study in humanities, law, and other fields, and improves student employability. While we are participating whole-heartedly in the campus-wide effort to overcome the dire economic challenges we face, the department of Comparative Literature does not want to lose sight of the indispensable intellectual and pedagogical contributions of a humanistic education for 21st-century global citizens.

In the University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey, UCI students found humanities courses more satisfying than courses in any other school. Results for students in Comparative Literature courses were also very positive in UCUES data. Future assessments should take such data into account. A small department does not have the resources to conduct the kind of study that would answer the question we often hear posed: why do students select one major over another? An investment in such a study campus-wide would put any future assessment of quality and decisions about resource allocation on a more solid footing. In the mean time, the department of Comparative Literature is polling its majors to see how they found out about CL and what they value in this program. We are reaching out to community college students who take courses in world literature and related subjects, forging connections with faculty teaching those courses. We are paying attention to our program at every level and welcome the opportunity to communicate about our efforts and successes.

Finally, we wish to address the question of restructuring departments in the SOH. The APG expresses an interest in the SOH reducing the number of small independent units in Humanities (p. 3). Does the UCI School of Humanities have an inordinate number of small units? To approach this question comparatively, we investigated the organization of humanities at other UC system campuses. We report the following: UCLA Humanities Division = 23 units, UC Berkeley = 17 units, UC Davis = 15 majors and programs; UCI = 15 departments. It seems, on comparison with other UC campuses, that Humanities at UCI does not have an excessive number of small units. Despite this evidence, Comp Lit is willing to entertain the prospect of joining forces with other units. Any such restructuring must be grounded in shared intellectual and disciplinary aims. We are currently engaged in conversation with other units about the intellectual grounds of possible collaborations.

Comparative Literature Expresses Solidarity with E.S.C.A.P.E.

FROM: Department of Comparative Literature UC Irvine
TO: Dean, School of Humanities

January 31, 2012

On January 27, 2012, E.S.C.A.P.E, a coalition of UCI undergraduate ethnic students, with support from several other ethnic studies groups at UCI, responded to the UCI administration “Needs Attention” memo (“‘Needs Attention’ Memo and The State of Ethnic Studies at UCI,”). The Department of Comparative Literature calls on UCI to respect and respond to this document, and to take it as a starting point for a meaningful engagement with the interdisciplinary departments and programs at UCI.

The administration memo to which E.S.C.A.P.E responds listed several units in the School of Humanities that the administration considers “need attention”: African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Women's Studies, Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Literatures, the Chicano/ Latino Studies Department in the School of Social Sciences, and the now-reorganized Department of European Languages and Studies. The “Needs Attention” memo criticizes the "low enrollments and low student-faculty ratios" in these programs and implies that their nature, existence, and level of support are being reconsidered.

In its response E.S.C.A.P.E writes, “we feel that this is an attack on studies that are crucial to the development of critical consciousness among students and the UCI community.” The signatories single out “the meaningful impact these units offer students in areas of critical thinking, identity and cultural competency, understanding historical legacies and struggles . . . and the futures of our diverse communities.” They argue against evaluating the performance of units based on their size, rather than on their intellectual and pedagogical achievements, and call on the administration and the Academic Planning Group to work with the units and students to increase enrollments.

The E.S.C.A.P.E response continues a history of student involvement in curricular reform at UCI. Significant curricular changes safeguarding or advancing interdisciplinary and critical studies have often been driven by students at moments of systemic crisis such as we are facing today. The African American Studies Department at UCI was created after student activism on behalf of underrepresented populations and fields of study in 1989, when UCI had a total of five black faculty on campus (less than 1% of the faculty). Stephanie Lopez, a member of Associated Graduate Students then, said: “They’ve got to start opening doors today, or we’re going to kick the doors down tomorrow” ("More Minority Students, Faculty Urged at UCI," Los Angeles Times, April 11, 1989). Asian-American students went on a 35-day hunger strike to establish the Department of Asian-American Studies in 1993 ("UCI Needs an Asian-American Program," May 24, 1993). Today’s student efforts represent a source of creative energy and will strengthen the units and the university. We call on the administration to continue support at UCI for cutting-edge interdisciplinary work that benefits the entire campus, and to respond with constructive engagement so that a time of crisis is not made an excuse to reverse decades of curricular and intellectual progress at UCI.