Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 02:03
Given that the a program in Critical Studies in disparities and Diasporas (C2D) was created — for the most part — as a direct result of concerted effort on the part of a passionate group of undergraduate students and their allies, it constitutes a threat to all that these students have achieved that the administrators and faculty have not made a clear effort to involve them in its implementation. Whether student representatives to the working group on the umbrella program are realistic in their demands, or whether their opinions are popular, should by no means dictate whether they are listened to. Even the students are now unclear on their role on the working group they themselves helped to create — or whether the working group even still exists.
Students all but made this program happen, and to exclude these students from the processes by which it will be defined is directly contradictory to the historical spirit of the push for an Africana studies major and representation of the study of diversity in the Tufts curriculum. Since the 1970’s, this has been a student-led movement. Last year, it was students that occupied Ballou Hall and, for better or for worse, forced a decision out of the relevant administrators. That Dean of Arts and Sciences Berger-Sweeney will now not even comment on the process of moving — or not moving — forward with the program shows a certain level of contempt for the students who have become emotionally and academically invested in seeing their project through.
Even if the Dean has valid motives for passing responsibility for the pro gram and the working group down to those with on-the-ground knowledge, these faculty members and administrators must recognize what it means that they have since December not made it clear to their student counterparts what their relationship will be, let alone met with them or possibly even met at all. A working group should not take this much work — these students’ jobs are not finished, and they have done their part to make it clear that they will see their project through through if given the chance. The university has a chance here, in creating a brand-new program without the bindings of precedent or institutional memory, to truly take into account the desires of the people who had a hand in creating it while it designs the curriculum and thinks about hiring key faculty.
The series of miscommunications and a general lack of clarity spell a threat that this opportunity may be lost, especially the more vocal student proponents get fed up or graduate off the Hill to move on to more fruitful activism.