Fil-Ams join fight to save SF State University’s ethnic studies program

SAN FRANCISCO – With reports of proposed cuts to the Ethnic Studies program, students and faculty of San Francisco State University voiced their frustration to the school’s president Leslie Wong.

The College of Ethnic Studies could lose about 40 percent of its operating budget and half of its educators due to the depletion of the reserve fund.

These students say that it is unfair for ethnic studies to take such a big hit.

Ethnic studies student Bianca Louie said the program is the only place focused on people of color.

“It’s not just an attack on a program, it’s much more symbolic and bigger than that” said Louie. “Ethnic studies is the only space in academia that is not catering to whiteness.”

Angelica Faustino, also an ethnic studies student, said these issues are not just happening at SF State, but within their communities and the nation, too.

“For us being here is not just showing our resistance is to be a beacon of hope to everyone else in those communities,” said Faustino.

The College of Ethnic Studies was founded in 1968 after a coalition of minority students called “The Third World Liberation Front” fought for education that catered to people of every color.

Fil-Am educators say that fight continues on today.

According to Dr. Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, an Asian American studies professor, SF State has the only college of ethnic studies in the country, and it’s important to restore and expand the program to support other ethnic studies movements across the nation.

“Right now, and I think it’s already been said that San Francisco Unified School District has fought for ethnic studies in all schools,” said Tintiangco-Cubales. “Who’s going to train those teachers? It’s got to be us.”

Wong told students and faculty that no plan exists to reduce the yearly budget for any of the six colleges at SF State, including the College of Ethnic Studies.

Dr. Arlene Daus-Magbual, an American Asian studies lecturer, said there’s 40 percent of them teaching in the college of ethnic studies.

“Just because we have a title that’s not tenured track it doesn’t mean we don’t teach as hard or as passionate as we need to teach for our students and I think taking that away is taking away mentors,” said Daus-Magbual. “It’s taking away lifelong relationships that can help each other with not just an ethnic studies lens but with our own communities.”

Dr. Dawn Mabalon, associate professor in the department of history, added, “We need to put the pressure on Sacramento to properly fund San Francisco State and the CSUs and the UCs and we need to keep putting pressure on the administration to fund ethnic studies and all of the colleges that received devastating cuts across the board.”

According to The San Francisco Examiner, Wong said the university will give $200,000 to the college from university-wide funds for future plans.

However, students say that the money is not enough and laid out their own list of demands Wong should meet which include the restoration of adequate funding to the college and hiring of more educators.

After meeting with the president of the college and giving their demands, the students and faculty of ethnic studies say they expect an answer no later than the end of Black History Month.


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