The truth is that ever since the formation of Ethnic Studies, public officials and university administrators have been trying to “roll back” the changes. They have not used striker and subsequent critiques of higher education as an occasion to question university curriculum or the function of public education more broadly. Instead, they have indulged false nostalgia in attempts to get back to the day when those critiques were seen to be silenced or at least inconsequential.
[Joanne Barker, “The Beginning and End of Ethnic Studies“]
In an infinitely depressing move, the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University is having their budget slashed by 40%. Barker lays out the political stakes and programme as clearly as possible in the piece, so click over and read it, but I also want to just hammer home that this is budget-as-bludgeon.
The continual eroding of education, especially around issues that the COES addresses, is 100% part and parcel of a public opinion that sees institutions of higher learning as sites of training and discipline for an economic system that began going extinct about 30 years ago. I fully understand college as a place of learning and expansion of the self–it’s one of the few places in the world where one can take a hot minute to nurture things like compassion, and that happens through particular kinds of readings and coursework that the college-as-service model never really manages to take as important. And, honestly, even if we buy the neoliberal language of college as job training, it is a total failure on that level if you were born poor.