Stanislaus State’s Ethnic Studies Program Makes Great Progress

A student walks past the corner of Monte Vista Avenue and Geer Road in Turlock, on the southeast corner of the campus of California State University, Stanislaus.

A student walks past the corner of Monte Vista Avenue and Geer Road in Turlock, on the southeast corner of the campus of California State University, Stanislaus.

Modesto Bee File

More power and resources become available for the ethnic studies program at Stanislaus State during its transition to a department in the spring, aligning with the 50th anniversary of its creation.

The progress is monumental because for the first time in the history of the university, ethnic studies will have a voice in the university senate. The faculty is also in the early stages of developing a certificate and masters program for the benefit of educators and other members of the workforce, said Xamuel Bañales, director of ethnic studies at the State of Stanislaus.

The changes are propelled by the passage of Assembly Bill 1460, a new state law requiring freshmen entering California state university to take an ethnic studies course to graduate. It became effective this year.

As a result of this requirement, CSU received additional funding to help develop and develop ethnic studies on 23 college campuses. Additionally, the expansion of the program to become a department means that it will be structured to operate more autonomously.

Stanislaus, Sacramento, Fresno, and Northridge are among the few CSUs that have some kind of ethnic studies department. However, they are behind San Francisco State, Cal State Los Angeles, and CSU Fullerton, which have already established an Ethnic Studies College.

“The departments… have more access to power,” Bañales said. “It makes a difference.”

With a seat in the academic senate, the department will have a voice on a wide range of issues that it did not have as a program. The academic senate represents the general faculty, and its purpose is to develop and analyze policies and procedures on academic and fiscal matters, according to the university.

Members are also responsible for making recommendations to the college president.

Bañales said Stanislaus State is ahead of the game when it comes to updating its courses to align with the AB 1460 requirement. This is because when Bañales was hired in 2016 , he realized the program was watered down, outdated, and did not excite students, he said.

He took it upon himself to reorganize or create 25 courses over a five-year period, including 10 new introductory ethnic studies sections.

“The task at Stan’s State was made easier by the preparatory work that Bañales and others had already done,” the university said in a report. declaration.

An administrative coordinator, whose program has long gone by, will also be incorporated under the leadership of the department chair to help with policies, procedures, budget, program and more, Bañales said. He said a faculty member had already been hired this year and the college planned to hire more for its ethnic studies department.

Currently, Stanislaus State has seven full-time and six part-time Ethnic Studies instructors.

There are also plans to create a certificate and master’s program. The exact title of the certificate program is not yet determined, but Bañales said it will be aimed at people in the workforce who need to be up to date on the subject.

In addition, the master’s program aims to better prepare educators. Bañales said he heard of high school physical education teachers taking responsibility for teaching ethnic studies with no real training in the field.

“We are not just any class that you can teach without any training,” he said.

Professor Emeritus reflects on impact

It means a lot to see ethnic studies develop at the university, said Professor Emeritus Richard Luevano, who, as a student activist in the late 1960s, led efforts to have the subject taught in the university. ‘State of Stanislas. He was inspired by his movement as a member of the AmeriCorps Volunteers Serving America (VISTA), an organization fighting poverty through capacity building, where he was responsible for opening a preschool in the Virgin Islands.

Because many members were unfamiliar with the culture, experts and residents were brought in to educate them so that they in turn could become better teachers, he said.

“At that point, I was like, ‘Why don’t we have this here for our teachers?’ He remembers.

Luevano then began his college education as a returning student in Stanislaus State during a time of protest and unrest in 1968, a time when teaching history to any non-white or Western person was considered radical. But the same year Luevano started college, students and faculty across the state of San Francisco took part in what became the longest strike in history at an academic institution, calling for implementation. of ethnic studies and the hiring of a diverse faculty.

He felt more inspired and rallied around 40 students to his efforts, forming the Minority Student Alliance on campus. It took about a year of protests and advocacy, but the students managed to convince administrators, former state president Stanislaus Alexander Capurso and his successor Carl Gatlin of the need for ethnic studies.

Luevano helped design and teach the first course in the spring of 1970. He graduated in May, graduated from San Jose State University, returned to Stanislaus State as principal. financial aid in 1971 and in 1972 became one of two full-time ethnic studies teachers at the college.

It is thanks to his efforts that Stanislas State is able to celebrate 50 years since the beginning of ethnic studies at the university. The college plans to hold an event in the spring to commemorate the anniversary.

But Bañales said the job was far from over. He hopes that one day Stanislas will not only be a department of ethnic studies but an entire college.

“I look forward to the next 50 years to see how we can continue,” he said.

Andrea Briseño is the equity reporter for The Bee’s community-funded economic mobility lab, which includes a team of journalists covering economic development, education and equity.

Your contribution helps support the Lab.

This story was originally published 23 November 2021 5:00 a.m.

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Andrea is the equity / underserved communities reporter for the Modesto Bee Economic Mobility Lab. She is originally from Fresno and graduated from San Jose State University.

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