Ethnic Studies plans for '68 strike commemoration
February 21, 2008 4:46 PM
The College of Ethnic Studies and the Educational Opportunity Program held a campus-wide meeting Thursday afternoon to plan a series of events commemorating the founding of the College of Ethnic Studies and the SF State Strike of 1968.
Strike commemoration project coordinator Daniel Gonzales, associate professor of Asian American Studies, told the group of about 40 students, professors, alumni and strike veterans that the events had a very specific purpose.
"There's a lot of history in this room," Gonzales said from the Richard Oakes Multicultural Center in the Cesar Chavez Student Center. "This is to re-establish our commitment to community service and establish a strong stand on global issues."
The meeting, which came a week after an initial meeting with Ethnic Studies faculty and EOP staff, was meant as a first call to the SF State campus and alumni to contribute ideas for the strike's commemoration, Gonzales said. A third meeting scheduled for March will be held for the general community outside SF State.
"We're planning to see how big or small this series of events will be that will potentially culminate in a conference in early October, Gonzales said, emphasizing that the date was tentative.
The College of Ethnic Studies was founded in the fall of 1969, a year after the SF State strike. The department set a precedent for other universities to follows and teaches Africana Studies, Asian American Studies, Raza Studies and American Indian Studies to this day. The EOP began in 1968 and paved the way for Ethnic Studies department, Gonzales said.
"The College of Ethnic Studies just couldn't have done it without the EOP," Gonzales said.
The EOP was created to improve access and retain low-income and educationally disadvantaged students. Services such as orientation, counseling, tutoring, and advising services are offered. EOP programs now exist on all CSU campuses.
"It really opened my eyes to the fact that nothing in my education before SF State and the strike spoke to my ethnic heritage in this country," Echavarri, said of herself as an 18-year-old student who participated in Raza studies at the time.
Echavarri left SF State after the strike and did community work in the Mission. She returned to SF State and graduated with a degree in Raza Studies in 1981 and a masters of social work in 1985. She said the commemoration is a way to practice the philosophy of the Ethnic Studies department.
"The department taught us to get an education and to give back to the community," Echavarri said.
Jessica Aguilar, 21, a double major in Raza Studies and sociology said she went to the meeting so she could understand the events surrounding the strike given the current proposed CSU budget cuts.
"I came to hear what they had to say because I feel we might have to strike again because the budget cuts are hurting ethnic studies and the Community Service Learning program might get cut," Aguilar said. "If we students had to strike again, I'd be totally down."
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