December 2003 Archives
An upcoming bill has professors nervous that censorship may become the new norm in international studies programs.
House Resolution 3077, the International Studies Higher Education bill, would allow Congress to create an advisory board that would make recommendations based on the content and curriculum of university international studies and foreign languages programs that receive federal funding. While defenders of the bill say that the board would purely advise and not interfere, professors in affected departments say the board would be dangerous to academia.
"This committee that they propose to form would function as an oversight committee to look into what you are reading, what is your curriculum, what are the contents of the lectures you're receiving, what books are you using," says SF State international relations professor Dwight Simpson. "That"s called censorship."
With Congress out of session, and the bill in the Senate for review, any changes in international studies programs will not be immediate. "These bills (that would reauthorize the Higher Education Act) under the HEA are still on the floor and probably won't pass until after November 2004 elections," said Mary Cunningham, the legislative director for the United States Students Association, which advocates for schools throughout the United States.
The HEA strengthens the educational resources of colleges and universities and provides financial assistance to students in postsecondary and higher education. Every five years the HEA is reauthorized which allows amendments to be made to it.
In a statement from the author of the bill and chairman of the subcommittee on Selection Education and Education and the Workforce, Pete Hoekstra says: "As we continue to reauthorize the HEA and strengthen and improve the state of higher education in America, we cannot neglect these important programs for international studies. The bill would increase coordination between these important international and foreign languages studies programs to better meet America's national and international security needs. In addition, this bill clarifies existing accountability requirements and adds new oversight of the programs in order to ensure appropriate use of taxpayer funds."
HR 3077 passed the bipartisan House Education and the Workforce Committee with a voice vote. Bay Area representatives were hesitant to comment because they had not yet reviewed it.
Conservative columnist Stanley Kurtz spoke in support of the bill to the committee in June, saying he felt that non-liberal points of view were being excluded from university teachings. "I think the academy has become too one-sided," he says. "Professors tend to share a left-leaning cultural and political perspective, and there are few representatives of more moderate or conservative points of view. This is bad for everyone because it inhibits real debate and interchange." HR 3077, he says, will encourage more diversity in academics.
With the board serving as more of an advising committee than a decision-making body, its influence would be limited to making recommendations as to the direction in which international studies programs go.
According to a press release from the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the sole purpose and function of this board is to advise the Department of Education and the Congress on issues of international education. The board will make recommendations and serve as a resource to those who actually oversee the programs at the federal level. It also defines the scope of the board as advisory only in nature, and in fact the bill includes an express prohibition that ensures the advisory board cannot direct programs, instructional methods or curriculum.
Midori McKeon, chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures writes in an e-mail: "Like many people in academia, especially those in the fields of area studies, foreign languages, history, ethnic studies, and international relations, I have concerns about provisions in HR 3077, particularly those pertaining to the creation of an International Education Advisory Board.
"The proposed board's powerful charge `to annually review, monitor, apprise, and evaluate" the activities of Title VI federal grant recipient programs and `to increase accountability by providing advice, counsel, and recommendations to Congress on international education issues for higher education" could introduce a level of governmental review that infringes upon the prerogatives traditionally granted to institutions of higher education. I do understand the government's paramount concern about national security. I believe, however, academic freedom is a crucial element in international education and education in general for nurturing mature, well-informed, open-minded individuals who can contribute in various ways to conflict resolution and the betterment of human society."
"Board members will be appointed on a bipartisan basis by both the executive branch and the legislative branch," says Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, the ranking Democrat on the House committee. "The board"s function is to provide recommendations. It has no oversight responsibilities. The board is strictly prohibited from interfering with curriculum."
Hinojosa supports the bill, he says, because "it reaffirmed the nation's commitment to international education." He feels that the bill is especially timely given current world events. "We are part of a global economy, and our fortunes are directly tied to the fortunes of other nations," he says. "As our challenges in Iraq demonstrate, lack of understanding of other people's culture and language can have deadly consequences. All of our young people from elementary to university must be exposed to the world at large."
Hinojosa's view of the bill is that it will broaden learning, not narrow or dictate it. Kurtz agrees with that assessment. "In both my Congressional testimony and in my piece, Reforming the Campus, I explicitly stated that it would be wrong to exclude radical critics of American foreign policy from the academy," he says. "This legislation excludes no points of view. But it does encourage the inclusion of many points of view."
Simpson, however, doesn't see the bill as so benevolent. In reference to Kurtz's House testimony, he says Kurtz "went on in very great length" about "imbalance" and "prejudice" in international affairs curricula. "He wants that corrected," Simpson says. "That's so very reminiscent of Joseph McCarthy that it makes me think, `Oh my God, is he back?""
Kurtz dismisses accusations of McCarthyism--Simpson's isn't the first--by turning
the indictment around. "If anyone is practicing McCarthyism, it is the followers of postcolonial studies who stigmatize their opponents as bigoted`Orientalists' as a justification for excluding them from the academy," he says. "Certainly the academy would be remiss if it included no critics of our government's policies. But it would be equally remiss if it included no supporters. Unfortunately, we are very close to the latter situation right now."
The bill is still being debated, and no date has been set for a vote. There is still plenty of time for people like Kurtz and Simpson to make their voices heard.
"I would encourage faculty to stay engaged in the process so that the final legislation strengthens international education," Rep. Hinojosa says. "If an advisory board were to be included in the final legislation, I would urge faculty to be involved with the board. All of us will need to remain engaged in the process to ensure that the board will fulfill its mission of providing recommendations to strengthen and improve international education programs."
Whether the bill will be beneficial, baleful, or benign remains to be seen, but Simpson has his suspicions of the motives for it. "They want support for U.S. policy," he says. "They want some committee in Washington to say,`Teach, but within these guidelines.' Whoa! Be careful."
At about 9:15 Tuesday the Fillmore erupted into drunken cheers and yells, the atmosphere was electric, the DJ's strident beats thumped through the air, the crowd of hundreds were amped, and the security was tight--Gavin Newsom had just officially won the election for the mayor of San Francisco.
Building on a 40 percent voter base from last month's election, Marina supervisor Gavin Newsom earned 53 percent of the vote, paving the final step in his long-plotted course to San Francisco's mayor's office.
It was Newsom who held most of the trump cards from the start of this mayoral election possessing the all-important blessing of the current mayor and almost legendary political demagogue Willie Brown.
"I think the current mayor's support was one of the most important things in the race, and I know that it really helped the campaign in a lot of different ways; partly just the personality of the mayor himself played a part," said Newsom supporter Harry Smicer, an attendee at Newsom's party.
Brown himself showed up at Newsom's party at around 9:30, sweeping in with his entourage and signature black fedora to cheers and acclaim, like it was he instead of his protege Newsom who had just been freshly elected.
And in a sense it was Brown's victory as much as any other's as it was the political machine that he built that was responsible for many of Newsom's votes.
Along with Brown’s patronage came the formidable vote-collecting machine that propelled Brown to two consecutive terms as mayor. The Democratic Party also came to Newsom’s aid, pulling out its big guns with Bill Clinton putting in a brief appearance at the Newsom campaign headquarters on Monday, and Al Gore making a speech in support of Newsom last week.
After the primary in November, Angela Alioto also threw her support behind the Newsom campaign in exchange for the promise of a position in City Hall. What that position will be remains vague, though Alioto described it as ‘vice mayor’.
Alioto was also an attendee at the Newsoms victory party, keeping out of the spotlight observing the raucus crowds below her from one of the balconees with a jaundiced eye.
Though both candidates were considered liberal, Newsom is seen as much more of an establishment figure having the support of San Francisco’s business community and the endorsement of the San Francisco Chronicle and many local unions.
However, against the odds Matt Gonzalez rallied the progressive community, winning the support of many parts of San Francisco not known for coming out to vote, including students and ex-dotcommers. This added up to one of the most talked-about mayoral elections in San Francisco history.
On Tuesday afternoon SF State senior Mark Pennant said, "I think that, well hopefully if they're smart most students should vote for Gonzalez, because I think that he cares about the 'little man' alot more than Newsom--he would just be the 'fat cats' mayor."
A lone Matt Gonzalez supporter who refused to give her name posted herself across the street from the Fillmore where Gavin Newsom held his victory party, heckling any new arrivals to the event. "I really think this is a black, black, day for the city and a lot of people in the city who deserved a voice in the government. Gavin Newsom is slime who just wants to please the corporations and businesses," she said.
The fact that Newsom let Gonzalez garner so many votes is in itself a failure of both Newsom and the Democratic Party.
SF State University political science Professor Corey Cook said Tuesday, “Newsom wasn’t as succesfull as Willie Brown was in the ’99 election. Brown has unparalleled skills in uniting a diverse coalition including the African-American community in Bay View and the downtown business community; Newsom doesn’t connect with people as well.”
With all these different factors weighing the scales, the election tonight may have been decided by something much simpler–-rain. With most of the write-in and absentee ballots coming from Newsom supporters, Gonzalez faced the trying task of motivating his voters to venture out on a stormy night to cast their ballots.
"Gonzalez in the end was forced to rely on things outside his control, like the weather and mostly just whether or not people got up to go vote," Cook said.
According to the Newsom campaign, the future of San Francisco will include investment in infrastructure, providing new and better services, deregulation for businesses, tax cuts, technology-enhanced government centralization (involving the new CitiStat and CompStat computer programs), a new stadium for the 49ers, a local earned-income tax credit, new business tax credits, wage and training subsidies, and so forth. For a full and in depth look at Newsom’s plans visit his Web site.
One of Newsom’s main tenets is that deregulation is the key to economic prosperity, in his economy brief he wrote, “The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce reported in 2001 that in excess of $2 billion could be poured into the San Francisco economy and 15,000 jobs created simply by speeding construction of transit, infrastructure, and housing projects already in the pipeline.”
Green Party candidate and scruffy underdog Matt Gonzalez lost an enthusiastic bid for mayor's office by less than 5 percent of the vote. Pushing for a 60 percent voter turnout, Tuesday's gloomy weather brought only 46 percent of registered voters to the polls, up by less than 1 percent from last month's election.
In a race that was just as much about looks and lifestyles as the core issues facing San Francisco, Matt Gonzalez still managed to come out on top--despite his loss in the runoff for mayor.
After garnering just 20 percent of the vote in last month's election, Gonzalez earned enough of the progressive vote to give frontrunner Gavin Newsom a run for his money--literally. While the Newsom campaign spent almost $4 million on his bid for office, Gonzalez's campaign was fueled largely by the energies of its young fan base.
In the past few months Gonzalez led a movement that has united progressive liberal voters from all backrounds. Much of his support has come from young voters, artists, musicians and political activists of all kinds.
"I haven't seen this much excitement in politics since the Kennedys," volunteer Cynthia Johnston said.
Johnston had been volunteering today for the Gonzalez campaign making phone calls and hitting the streets with signs in the Bayview/Hunter's Point Distict.
"Matt has energized the younger generation, helping them get active, and working for change," Johnston said.
The race as a whole has been under the national eye in light of the fact that Democrats are in jeopardy of losing one their most liberal cities. The Democratic Party came out in major support of Newsom, publicing an endorsement by Al Gore and flying out Bill Clinton yesterday to rally support yesterday. Gonzalez would have been the first Green mayor of a major city. Santa Monica had a Green mayor, Mike Feinstein, from 2000-2002.
"To send the most popular ex-president is a symbol that the party is grooming Newsom," said August Beck, a worker for Internationalist Socialist Organization, referring to Bill Clinton's special visit to San Francisco to endorse Newsom yesterday.
Beck thinks that Gonzalez getting into the runoff is huge. He is convinced that the people of San Francisco have become disillusioned with the two-party system. According to Beck, Matt Gonzalez has set a precedent and is starting a shift and by bringing democracy back to San Francisco.
The Gonzalez concession party also brought out many local politicians including supervisors Chris Daly, Gerardo Sandoval, Aaron Peskin and Jake McGoldrick. Former Mayor Art Agnos was also in attendence to show his support for Gonzalez.
Supervisor Daly was an emcee of sorts for the night, introducing some of Gonzalez's strongest supporters.
"If Newsom wants to give breaks to downtown and wants to keep dirty diesel buses on the streets...if he wants to scapegoat the poor, homeless and working class," Daly said. "We're going to take out his legs."
When Gonzalez took the stage he recieved an enourmous ovation. Gonzalez pointed out that it was remarkable that a city with 3 percent registered Green voters had 47 percent of all voters voting for a Green candidate.
"People voted outside the lines because they value democracy," Gonzalez said. "We didn't win it, we didn't lose it either."
SF State’s budget may once again be put on the chopping block and the results could be severe.
Recently, the state’s Department of Finance ordered all state agencies, including the California State University system, to prepare plans for a possible 20 percent in cuts for next year.
“It’s hard to fathom,” said Leroy Morishita, vice president for administration and finance. He said if the state does reduce the system budget by 20 percent, it would be unrealistic because it would be equivalent to shutting down three CSU campuses.
During the budget town hall meeting on Oct. 1, Morishita and President Robert Corrigan tried to relieve fears, saying that the 20 percent reduction may not happen at all. Corrigan also emphasized that this year’s budget is balanced and that the university has been able to preserve academic programs, as well as faculty and staff positions.
At the same time, Corrigan warned that if the governor’s office really starts looking along the lines of a 20 percent or even 10 percent reduction for the CSU, it would seriously impact SF State and create a $30 million gap.
Until a budget proposal is decided and the actual state budget is drawn, there’s no way of knowing what will happen, he said. The board of trustees will decide on a budget proposal for the 2004-2005 academic year on Oct. 31.
The news of the 20 percent reduction comes at a time when the state estimates a budget deficit of $7.9 billion for next year. If the state’s projections come true, the CSU system could lose $486.2 million of funds in addition to dealing with a current shortfall of $ 12.9 million.
During a September presentation for the 2004-2005 budget, the CSU Committee on Finance met with the trustees to discuss the impact of a 20 percent reduction.
Such cuts could force an increase of undergraduate student fees by 89.4 percent or limit access to more than 111,000 students. An estimated 6,709 faculty members and 9,290 administrators could lose their jobs and 53,673 course sections could be reduced, according to the committee’s presentation.
SF State is still grappling with the last round of budget cuts, which have left the university with a $9.7 million shortfall. The entire CSU system experienced $452.4 million in cuts for the 2003-2004 academic year. Out of those cuts, SF State absorbed $25.6 million in reductions.
In response to those reductions, the board of trustees raised student fees in July by 30 percent. Full-time undergraduates paid $474 more this semester and will pay a total of $2,544 for the school year. Graduate students paid $522 bringing their annual total to $2754, while out-of-state student fees run up to $11,004 with the increase.
The fee increase and revenue from this year’s enrollment growth helped ease the effects of the budget cuts, said Provost John Gemello. He said the administration has been preparing for additional cuts for some time now, but that 20 percent in reductions would be too dramatic.
“We’re pretty lean as it is right now,” he said about the current situation. He explained that heavy cuts for the system could mean a number of different things ranging from reducing services to turning away potential students.
But if the institution ended up having to reject potential students, he said, this would mean breaking the system’s promise to provide a place in higher education for all who are eligible. This promise is a key part of the “Master Plan,” which was a set of recommendations from the 1960s that led to the passage of the Donahoe Higher Education Act – the law that governs policies for community colleges and the CSU and University of California systems.
SF State's journalism department faces changes for the coming semesters. After hiring two of the current lecturers to teach full time beginning in the spring, it appears that the journalism department's faculty will be composed mostly of full-time tenure-track faculty. Because of these hires , many of the part-time lecturers who have long been teaching in the department will likely not be returning.
Faculty members are confident that full-time faculty will ultimately strengthen a department's future. With teachers who will be with the department year after year, faculty members feel that they will provide the department with consistency and a chance to grow overall.
Many journalism students, however, are concerned about what this may mean for the department and for their education.
"It's good for consistency," journalism student Milan Gagnon said, "but it seems that faculty will be spread really thin next semester."
The journalism department began posting job advertisements last December in various professional publications, Web sites and job lists for a full-time tenure-track faculty member.
During the screening and review process, the hiring committee found that two of the finalists were both very qualified. According to hiring committee chair Austin Long-Scott, the committee had trouble choosing between the two candidates and Dean of Humanities Paul Sherwin opted to hire both of the finalists if they could find the resources to allow it.
Sherwin said that they did not want to choose one candidate over the other and possibly begin another search in the future, so they decided to hire them both. "We saw an opportunity to strengthen the department," Sherwin said.
The university had established a New Wave Initiative, where, according to Sherwin, roughly 75 full-time faculty members were being sought by the university over a three-year period. These hires would be funded by the university. According to Edna Lee, administrative analyst for the journalism department, SF State had long been criticized for hiring a lot of part-time lecturers. This initiative is a commitment by the university to hire more full-time tenure-track faculty to bring strength to various departments.
With only one job advertised, funded, and approved by the university, the hiring committee worked with the College of Humanities and the university to scramble together the funds to employ a second faculty member. Journalism faculty and Dean Sherwin remained ambiguous about how much had to be compensated for and where the funds came from, citing that budget issues are very complex and that discussions between the hiring committee are confidential.
With entering full-time assistant professors starting at a salary ranging from $45,000 to $51,000, plus benefits, and lecturers earning a range of $4,000-6,000 per class, the decision to hire two full-time faculty is an expensive one. But faculty members are confident that filling the department with full-time faculty and minimizing part-time lecturers will give the department more stability and consistency in the future. "Lecturers come and go," Sherwin said. "Full-time faculty are here year after year."
Lee said most departments likely only hired one new faculty. "It shows that the university must value the journalism department," Lee said, "to allow for two positions."
However the funds were obtained, the journalism department hired two full-time tenure-track faculty members to begin this Spring 2004 semester. Yumi Wilson and Rachele Kanigel, who have both lectured in the journalism department before, were the two candidates selected to join SF State's full-time faculty.
Wilson reported for the Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle, covering a variety of topics, including San Francisco City Hall, state government and the Los Angeles riots of the early 1990s. She is currently the deputy readers representative at the SF Chronicle, where she acts as a liaison between readers and the editorial staff.
Kanigel, currently an assistant professor of journalism and media analysis at CSU Monterey Bay, has written over a thousand articles in newspapers, magazines, and online. She has written on a wide range of topics, including health and science, criminal justice, government and business.
The two new hires will minimize the need to employ part-time lecturers in the future. This semester, eight lecturers taught in the journalism department. According to next semester's schedule, only four lecturers are scheduled to teach classes, each teaching just one course. The rest of the part-time faculty will likely not return.
"It is nearly impossible to imagine that I'll be returning next semester or ever," lecturer Don Menn said. "[Department Chair] John Burks and Dean Sherwin have both indicated that the two new hires will eliminate the need for outside lecturers as far into the future as they can see."
Not all students agree that replacing many of the lecturers with full-time faculty is the best decision for the department. Many students have expressed disappointment to find that so many of the lecturers will not be returning. Journalism student Lailie Ibrahim said she has learned so much from the lecturers she has had. "It"s a shame he's leaving," Ibrahim said of lecturer Roland DeWolk. "So many students could learn so much from his lectures."
"It's a shame that we pay all these fees, and we don't get to decide what kind of education we receive."
Dean Sherwin explains that this situation is not unique to the journalism department and has occurred in many other departments at the university. "You want full-time faculty," he said. "They carry the department year in and year out."