Chicano studies department to focus on ethnic and immigration issues

Marissa Kindelspire

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Richard Martinez, lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case against Arizona's HB2281, which bans ethnic studies from K-12 in the Tucson school district, answers questions about the law to a packed house in the Whitsett Room of Sierra Hall on Friday. Photo Credit: Paul Kingsley / Photo Editor

On a typical Friday, many college students can be found at a local movie theater, intellectually unwinding from a long week of school and work.

On Friday, Sept. 25 however, more than 200 students and approximately 50 faculty members spent their time watching a movie at CSUN’s Whitsett Room located in Sierra Hall.

Instead of a special preview or showing of a feature film, the audience was shown “Precious Knowledge,” a documentary film produced by Los Vatos, the Independent Television Service and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The film focuses on a group of Arizona students fighting the state government and its attempt to kill the “anti-American” ethnic studies programs offered in local high schools.

The purpose of this showing was to supplement the event “Arizona’s Ethnic Studies and Immigration Struggle” presentation, moderated by CSUN Chicano studies professor Dr. Rodolfo Acuna.

The event hosted more than six presenters and opened the floor for students to discuss the bills known as HB2281 and SB1070, which seek to end all of Arizona’s ethnic studies programs.

Attorney Richard Martinez was among the speakers, and broke down the case against Arizona and the fight against HB2281 and SB1070, Acuna said.

Martinez referenced the website saveethnicstudies.org, where information regarding the cause and those who are defending it are located, as well as an area for donations to help in the fight against the controversial bill.

Acuna said the fight against an ethnic studies ban is taking place heavily online in forums like the one entitled “For Chicana Chicano Studies.”

Students were allowed to give their feedback regarding Senator Russell Pearce’s proposed bill, and the interest level was “very high,” Acuna said.

The Chicano studies department is focusing on the ethnic studies and immigration issues this year, and more events and panels will be held as the semester progresses, Acuna said.