Sit-In at GSEIS

A complicated story of a sit-in at a class at GS&EIS is emerging.  There were earlier reports in the Daily Bruin [see links below] and elsewhere.  This one – excerpted below from Inside Higher Ed – gives the clearest description:

…(S)ome graduate students are weighing in on what they see as a climate of hostility toward minority students, both in the Graduate School of Education’s Information’s Social Science and Comparative Education division and at UCLA as a whole. But the grad students’ interruption of a class session with a sit-in has other graduate students questioning their tactics — and some say their accusations are unfair….

Regular coursework was suspended for about an hour because of the sit-in. “A hostile campus climate has been the norm for Students of Color in this class throughout the quarter as our epistemological and methodological commitments have been repeatedly questioned by our classmates and our instructor,” the group’s letter reads. The statement accuses “the professor” (it does not identify Rust by name) of correcting “perceived grammatical choices that in actuality reflect ideologies” and “repeatedly questioning the value of our work on social identity and the related dynamics of oppression, power and privilege.” The “barrage of questions by white colleagues and the grammar ‘lessons’ by the professor have contributed to a hostile class climate,” it continues.

(Kenjus Waston, a black Ph.D. candidate in the division and an organizing member of UCLA Call 2 Action: Graduate Students of Color), whose research focuses on black men and microagressions in higher education, said some within the division – he did not wish to name specific professors or peers – have questioned his research as “too subjective,” he said. In another case that best exemplifies the “grammar ‘lessons'” referenced in group’s letter, he said, another student who chose to capitalize the first letter in the word “Indigenous” in her research papers saw it changed to a lowercase throughout. Watson said that correction disregarded the writer’s scholarly advocacy and had other “ideological implications.” Rust also insisted on Chicago Manual of Style form in research papers, even though some in the group wanted to use American Psychological Association style, in line with their more social science-oriented research…

Some faculty members also have criticized the group. John Ellis, head of the California Association of Scholars and professor emeritus of German literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz, said it was a professor’s job to correct grammatical errors, and that doing so did not constitute racism. Moreover, he said, “stealing time” from other students in the class during the sit-in merited punitive action by UCLA against the protesters. A UCLA spokesman declined to respond to a question about possible punishment for the students, citing Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act regulations…

Full story at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/11/25/ucla-grad-students-stage-sit-during-class-protest-what-they-see-racially-hostile

Earlier stories in the Daily Bruin are at:

The story has been picked up on the Internet, especially the grammar angle, e.g.:

http://www.westernjournalism.com/ucla-protesters-call-good-grammar-racist/

http://www.examiner.com/article/ucla-grad-students-charge-that-correcting-spelling-grammar-is-racist

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