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Professors weigh in on multicultural center

Dear Panther Editor,

We, the undersigned Chapman faculty members, hereby express our support for the students on this campus who are campaigning for a multicultural center at Chapman University.

President Doti’s desire to have multiculturalism infuse the entire Chapman campus rather than being cordoned off to a small token area of the campus might be laudable in the abstract. However, such a dream is only feasible in social and institutional contexts of already-existing diversity and equity – contexts where racism and other structures and histories of inequity don’t formatively impact power relations and access to political, social and educational institutions. This is palpably not the case in the contemporary U.S. and is certainly not the case at Chapman University, which has been criticized for its lack of ethnic diversity amongst faculty and students. That lack of diversity has been the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging race and gender discrimination. Chapman continues to make heteronormative and transphobic assumptions about students. For instance, roommate housing contracts ask how prospective roommates would feel about guests of the “opposite sex.” To claim that one is “color blind” or “doesn’t see race” in 21st century America suggests a failure to acknowledge the material reality of racism and other social inequities in the lived experience of students, staff and faculty. It can be asserted only by ignoring a substantial body of scholarship and activism by critical race theorists and others who have discredited the notion of a “post-racial” U.S. and the self-deception of “color blindness.” In any case, we reject the assumption that Chapman must either create a multicultural center or promote multiculturalism campus-wide. We can and should do both.

We write this letter not only to affirm our solidarity with Chapman students who are doing the hard work of campaigning for a multicultural center on our campus, but also to express our pride at the outpouring of thoughtful critical commentary these students have generated in response to the Chapman administration’s refusal to address their concerns. These student responses surely demonstrate exactly the values that Chapman proclaims and the passions and talents we hope Chapman students will develop: critical consciousness, commitment to social justice and active participation in democratic discourse.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Barnard, English

Julye Bidmead, Religious Studies

Penny Bryan, Educational Studies

Marisa S. Cianciarulo, Law

Claudine Jaenichen, Art

Jan Osborn, English

Doug Sweet, English

Stephanie Takaragawa, Sociology

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