The Academic Senate at California State University Channel Islands voted to include a Chicano/a studies program in the university’s master’s curriculum by 2008 in late October.
Some members of the CSUN Chicano/a studies program were active in helping the community of Ventura County implement Chicano/a studies major at CSUCI, like a Chicano/a studies instructor at Oxnard College and CSUN Chicano/a studies major alumnus Jose Moreno, as well as other members of the community.
“It (is) not just me,” Moreno said. “CSUN has been supportive and really wants to help. (Professor) Rudy Acuña and most of the faculty have been supportive.”
Jorge Garcia, professor in the Chicano/a Studies Department at CSUN, said the department supported Moreno’s efforts by providing him with ideas for the program. Mary Pardo, chair of the Chicano/a Studies Department, wrote a letter to CSUCI president Richard Rush to stress the importance of having the program at the university.
“It allows students to look at their history and see why we exist, and how we got here,” Pardo said.
Some professors also have written letters for support of the implementation of the program, such as Garcia, who attended meetings about the new program at CSUCI.
Moreno said he knew that people in the community surrounding the university, including students at CSUCI, have been supportive with the implementation of the Chicano/a studies curriculum.
He said that since the Chicano/a studies program was recently approved, it would be too early to tell how many students will be interested in the major.
Moreno, along with CSUCI professor Frank Barajas, is currently working on a curriculum for the program and must also hire staff for the program. The curriculum then must be approved by the committee so that it could to be implemented in 2008 as part of the CSUCI master curriculum.
“We already have a lot of classes written up,” Moreno said. “We still need more, but we might be struggling with hiring professors.”
CSUCI has five courses in Chicano/a studies and currently offers the program as a minor. Rush promised the community that he would establish a Chicano/a studies major in 2006. In September 2005, the university proposed a multicultural study major, Garcia said.
“They just wanted to cluster everyone together,” Moreno said. “You can’t put a bunch of categories into one. It would defeat the purpose of it and go against the promise to the community.”
Moreno said he, Barajas and other supporters struggled to get their voices heard and it took several meetings with CSUCI officials to listen to them.
Garcia said that developing a Chicano/a studies program at CSUCI is logical since a large portion of the population in that area is Latino.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau, 33.4 percent of the 753,197 people who reside in Ventura county are Latino, and it is most likely more than that now, Garcia said.
Garcia said not having a Chicano/a studies program in a university in an area with that many Latinos does not look good for the institution.
“You want the curriculum to reflect the community,” said Garcia, who lives in Ventura County. “How can you live to that as a university without having that representation? How are you going to serve the community?”
Moreno said the Chicano/a studies program will benefit the community as well as the university. He added that the program would include classes that reflect the community.
Pardo said increasing the number of Chicano/a studies professors will create Chicano/a representation on the university. Moreno said the program would introduce much needed diversity to the university.
“It would definitely benefit the school,” Moreno said. “It (will) bring in more diverse students to campus. The university always preaches having diversity, and they can get even more.”
Oscar Areliz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org