Here’s a powerful piece from the Chair of our Department of Gender and Women’s Studies.
EO 1100 and the Downfall of CSUN Faculty
By Breny Mendoza, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies
The stunning announcement of the Executive Order 1100 just two days before classes started which mutilated Comparative Cultural Studies GE requirements at CSUN with absolutely no faculty consultation revealed at least three sets of issues: 1) faculty governance is dead, faculty disenfranchisement has come full-circle and administrator rule is modeled after authoritarian forms of government 2) ethnic studies and gender & women’s studies departments can disappear with just a stroke of a pen at the whim of administrators with flawed conceptions of the humanities and are negotiable in exchange for a few concessions 3) faculty acquiescence and fatigue are part of the problem.
None of these revelations should come as a surprise. The US American university has been undergoing deep transformations since the late 70s which is when neoliberalism began its march through the institutions. By now dozens of books have been written about the privatization and corporatization of the university. Private and public universities all have come under the aegis of administrators and staffers that have no respect or understand the value of research and education. They serve only the interests of trustees, presidents, provosts, and deans. Most of us are aware that there is such a thing as administrator bloat in our universities. They by far outnumber and outearn the faculty now. A new report shows that the CSU system has hired administrators at twice the rate of faculty. Contingency faculty or so-called part-time faculty (an ironic name to call faculty who are teaching at least 5 courses a semester to stay afloat) now compose 75% of the faculty at US American universities. Many of them are on welfare. There should be no doubt in our minds that the profession has lost its power and prestige. It is at the verge of extinction and losing its last vestiges of dignity.
The degradation of the faculty at a so-called Hispanic-serving institution like CSUN and the evisceration of its ethnic studies and gender & women’s studies departments has its own particularities. Their students belong to the most marginalized sectors of US society and many of their faculty share their status. Disenfranchising faculty that are already socially disenfranchised because they belong to the wrong gender, race, ethnicity, national origin or perhaps are not even US citizens is a no-brainer. Dumbing down the mission of the Hispanic-serving university and the mission of these disciplines comes easy to administrators that have never understood the purpose of gender and women’s departments and ethnic studies nor have held high expectations of the students they serve nor the faculty they hire.
The purpose of EO 1100 was never to improve the undergraduate education of underserved students by enlarging the number and variety of courses that can address emerging fields and new concepts in the humanities that can make a difference in their lives. Curricular needs are largely unknown to administrators, boards of trustees and legislators. EO 1100 is a top-down intervention that with surgical precision removes the most important advances in the humanities and the social sciences from the curriculum. Portability of GE courses across campuses is a pretext of administrators to gain even more control of the curriculum. They are not interested in curriculum content (how can they?), they are only interested in bringing the numbers down, not of their salaries, but of the number of students that are unable to graduate because of the especially difficult circumstances in which they acquire a degree. The goal is a profound reorganization of the CSU that begins with the drastic reduction of the number of students, faculty and the debasement of academic life. Under the cover of student success, a complete reorganization of the GE requirements is now being imposed on the faculty that never had a say in it. An already embattled faculty with an excessive work load now have with lightning speed to comply with a GE reform that is against the interests of their departments and their students.
The combination of decades of erosion of faculty governance, the social fascism that neoliberalism has produced and the rise of an authoritarian regime based on an ideology of white male supremacy conspire against a revolt of the faculty. For too long faculty have been spectators of their own demise. Today we either dig in our heels or dig our own graves. What shall we choose? Wake up CSUN!