Ethnic Studies with professors and hiring power
Major Cultures with classes on colonialism and race
responsibly through community input
Increase administrative support

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Demands: Ethnic Studies

Ethnic Studies examines race as a social construction that has been shaped throughout United States history at the hands of forces such as policy, violence, law, and media. It includes an analysis of the influences of gender, sexuality, nationality, and class, as well as a critical look at the power structures that have been prevalent in joining together the elements in the formation of race and ethnicity as we understand it today. Especially given Columbia's Eurocentric Core Curriculum, Ethnic Studies plays a crucial role in providing students with tools critical to understanding the formations of race and ethnicity in the United States and provides us with the necessary knowledge to understand the position of ethnicity and race as projects of power.

The state of Ethnic Studies at Columbia is in a critical condition. The Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race (CSER) and the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) are understaffed, underfunded, and have little autonomous power with which to extend its programming. This program has been denied the crucial resources that it needs to sustain itself. The risk of even further decline will become an even bigger threat unless the power to hire faculty and offer a full curriculum in the University is granted to the Center.

Following its institutionalization, student voices become powerless in determining the direction of CSER. As a result of the 1996 protests that led to creation of Ethnic Studies at Columbia, students were afforded special positions on the hiring committees of CSER. However, in practice, these positions have had no voting power and little influence, and are wholly symbolic in nature.


1. Given the inadequate number of core faculty present next semester, we demand the completion of 2 core faculty hires per year for both CSER and IRAAS until each has 12 core junior and senior professors, which must be maintained indefinitely.

2. The academic review of CSER and IRAAS must begin in Summer 2008 where the board must include only ethnic studies scholars from outside institutions as well as Columbia ethnic studies majors. The academic review must also research the steps necessary for the creation of Queer Studies, which has historically been placed under Ethnic Studies at other institutions, as well as Native American Studies which must be considered by the university following the review's completion.

3. Interested Ethnic Studies majors collectively, shown through a vote, must be given 1 or 2 votes (depending on committee size) which will be delivered by the current student positions on all hiring committees for junior and senior faculty to increase student presence and determination of CSER's direction.

4. To maintain the integrity of Ethnic Studies and the very possibility of its sustained growth, the CSER and IRAAS must be granted the ability to make hires autonomously. This is not a call for the immediate departmentalization of Ethnic Studies. Rather it is a call for the Ethnic Studies programs to make hiring decision on their own accord, without the need of outside departments to lead the hire. We recognize that this is unprecedented for centers and institutes throughout the University, but see it as a necessary step in creating Ethnic Studies classes and research initiatives that are accountable to the field and on par with peer institutions.