1. As Professor Gets Punished for Teaching About Race, Students Mobilize
This month, I have been a part of a broad coalition of students, artists, activists, teachers, professors, union leaders and community members who are organizing resistance to the sexist, racist and classist collegiate structures in Minnesota. This group was catalyzed by the position that Minneapolis Community and Technical College took in reprimanding Professor Shannon Gibney when two white male students complained about their discomfort during a lesson she was teaching on structural racism. We find it deplorable, albeit unsurprising, that institutions like MCTC have chosen to emphasize the comfort of white male students in lessons on structural racism, and we refuse to stand for it. Our coalition is planning direct action not only to defend Professor Gibney but to seek structural accountability in these institutions while envisioning new spaces and relationships in higher education.
2. After Students of Color Sit-In, UCLA Investigates
On November 14, a group of twenty-five students at UCLA, collectively known as UCLA Call 2 Action: Graduate Students of Color, held an open teach-in during a member’s mock dissertation presentation in a graduate course in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. During the teach-in, participants shared important texts written by scholars of color and recounted painful and moving accounts of racism, sexism and heterosexism within the department. The participants urged departmental leaders to consider and extend the implications of the Moreno Report to the experiences of students of color at UCLA. Immediately following the teach-in, the professor of the class circulated an e-mail to colleagues denouncing the action and insinuating that the students of color in his class staged a “protest” principally because, as poor writers, they were unwilling to accept his grammatical corrections—despite the fact that they all have received high marks on written work and did not raise his grammar corrections as cause for concern. He also forwarded his e-mail, without the knowledge of departmental leadership, to various media sources, prompting a barrage of hateful and racialized messages directed at his students. GSE&IS leadership has commissioned a faculty committee to consider racial discrimination across the school. The Call 2 Action group is working with school leadership to organize a series of town hall meetings beginning in January 2014.