Office of the President
Academic Affairs and the Office of the Provost
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue, Administration Building 562
San Francisco, CA 94132
Dear President Wong and Provost Rosser:
On behalf of the Executive Council of the American Studies Association, the oldest and largest scholarly association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of U.S. cultures and histories in a global context, we are writing to express our grave concern about the proposed cuts to the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University (SFSU). We ask that you take seriously the demands set forth by the faculty, staff, and students invested in preserving the future of the only College of Ethnic Studies in the world.
SFSU’s College of Ethnic Studies is internationally renowned. It began in 1969 with the founding of the first ever Black Studies program in a four-year university; in the decades since, it has grown and expanded to be an intellectual and institutional site for the support of scholarship about and participation of communities of color, indigenous peoples, women of color, LGBTQ people, the working class, and others systematically excluded from access to higher education.
This valuable institution is now faced unprecedented cuts, following a decision-making process lacking in transparency. Austerity measures are devastating public universities all across the country; regardless, this does not justify the top-down slashing of budgets that would essentially destroy programs that not only serve underrepresented peoples at the University, but also sustain a vibrant and necessary climate of academic freedom - one of the hallmarks of University intellectual life.
The relations of Ethnic Studies scholarship to American Studies are vital to the scholarly work produced in our field - locally and globally. In short, American Studies could not and would not be a viable intellectual enterprise without intellectual contributions which have helped to move the field from its beginnings in the 1950s and its focus on defining itself along its national boundaries to work that connects these concerns with diverse communities on the ground and their connections to peoples across the globe. This turn in American Studies toward scholarly work that reflects our inside and our outside has revitalized the field in the last thirty years and continues to be the touchstone for the proliferation of American Studies programs, departments and institutes in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Any moves to diminish or eliminate Ethnic Studies strike at the heart of American Studies and we urge you to come to the table with concerned students, faculty, and community members to reach a plan for moving forward that recognizes the invaluable presence of Ethnic Studies both at the University itself, and in the work of American Studies more generally.
Executive Committee of the American Studies Association
President: David Roediger, University of Kansas
President-elect: Robert Warrior, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Immediate Past President: Lisa Duggan, New York University
Councilor: Jodi Byrd, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Councilor: Christina Hanhardt, University of Maryland, College Park
Councilor: Sharon Holland, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Signed March 8, 2016
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