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Apropos of Nothing in Particular, of Course…

Instapundit links to some criticism of attempts at another university (Columbia, specifically) to departmentalize something akin to an “Ethnic Studies” program (Native American Studies, specifically). In particular, critics point out statements made by advocates of the program that would seem to suggest that a Native American Studies Department at Columbia would be an explicitly political organization.

Ahem. Not that I’m suggesting that any of the concerns raised have any relevance whatsoever with current goings on at the University of Oregon.

Now, on the other hand, if there was a push at the U of O to departmentalize Ethnic Studies, I might be somewhat more worried. Since that isn’t the case, however, I can rest assured that an overtly politicized Ethnic Studies Department at this institution is nothing to fret about for the time being.

  1. make a plan! says:

    a liberal can make a plan

    A Chinese can steal a plan

    A Conservative is born with a plan

  2. Ossie says:

    put bar here?

  3. Vincent. says:


  4. Cheerio says:

    Education is a right! Fix the leaky classrooms! Departmentalize ES! Say NO to Tasers! Viewpoint neutrality means more money! Take back campus!

  5. Vincent. says:

    Fucking racist.

  6. Niedermeyer says:

    The majority of academic work carries some kind of political implications, and therefore, bias. What boggles my mind is that kids really give a shit about whether or not this new department exists. I have a few basic questions:

    1- How are people not currently free to study what they want?
    2- Aren’t there enough majors which currently offer no career prospects beyond the service industry?
    3- Even if this is about some political agenda, aren’t you aware that most of the country is blissfully ignorant of campus radicalism? What makes you think that adding an ES department will do anything more than increase tuition?

    I really, really don’t care whether this happens or not. I now have the luxury of ignoring all the petty bullshit that happens on campus along with the rest of the so-called “real world.” What bothers me is that rather than being prepared for the world as it is, impressionable kids are learning that the values which get you ahead are conspicuous victimhood, leveraging ethnic disunity for personal/political gain, requiring ideological uniformity from social peers and viciously attacking anyone who disagrees with your ideology. As tactics for creating cults, “revolutionary organizations” or militant factions these values are fantastic. As a means of preparing young people for life in a diverse, pluralistic, and (relatively) meritocratic society, they are downright harmful. Good luck outside the campus bubble, kiddos!

  7. Sean says:

    Nay for racist academic departments.

  8. Vincent says:

    I honestly don’t have much of an opinion about the departmentalization of Ethnic Studies one way or another, aside from the aforementioned concerns about how political the department would be and questions about how necessary it is in the first place.

    If someone could formulate a halfway coherent argument as to why it’s necessary and ease peoples’ concerns about what kind of activities the department will be engaging in re: hiring practices and curriculum, I’m sure a lot of people, myself included, wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with it.

    Unfortunately, no one has bothered to even attempt that, instead favoring forums such as the “Take Back the Campus!” rally to “demand” that Ethnic Studies be departmentalized, leaving the rest of us to see the whole affair as little more than another token gesture to show everyone just how “diverse” this campus supposedly is.

    I certainly can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I don’t think that anyone’s intent is to say “under no circumstances should Ethnic Studies be departmentalized,” but rather to say “1) aside from mouthing the multicultural mantra, what purpose does departmentalization really serve? and 2) given precedents elsewhere, there are a number of legitimate concerns that should be addressed in an honest and forthright manner.”

  9. Ford says:

    I’m slightly flattered at the response.

    CJ: Literary forms of argument are valuable and can effectively compliment a more clean cut argument. That’s what gives the OC its unique (to this campus) political value. But sarcasm, et al are inherently limited to being just critical responses, not postulations in themselves. The OC will not have a constructive impact if it contributes *only* witty cynicism to a political debate. Alternatively, by constructing an “actual position” and supporting it with all the snarky stuff, the OC could seriously enter the debate. Which leads to Ted’s point…

    I think neidermeyer is partially right: there are no people “demanding” departmentalization who want to have a debate in which they might change their mind. But I don’t know how many of the readers of this blog would be willing to have a change of opinion, either. So what’s the point of making an actual argument? Is there any changing of minds to be had? Yes, the administration, which will ultimately decide on this, has not “made up their mind”: if that had, it would have already been done. Neither, I’m sure, has a large bit of the student body. By my original intention was not to spur on the OC to present a case to the student body and the administration against departmentalization. Well, maybe it was.

  10. Vincent says:

    I’m getting pretty tired of your racism, Ted.

  11. Niedermeyer says:

    This thread is rapidly turning in to out-of-context-quote hell.

    Ford: While it’s not necessarily the tack I would have taken, I’m having a hard time blaming Ossie for refusing to seriously enter this debate. The general topic is a minefield at the UO, and I seriously doubt that anyone who is “demanding” departmentalization is really interested in a dispassionate debate. Departmentalization is an item on someones bureaucratic checklist under the heading “things to do this year to further justify more funding.” That this will all inevitably devolve into someone being called a racist will serve only to check off yet another box on said checklist…

  12. Sean says:

    I hate white people.

    But since no one is really white except Albinos, you’re all off the hook.

  13. Vincent. says:

    Cheerio: is education actually a right enshrined in law, or is it one of those “rights” like the “right” to have clean air or the “right” to not be offended that people like to invent to bestow their pet causes with an air of gravitas?

    And in any case, what does the “right” to education have to do with the departmentalization of Ethnic Studies at the UO — err, I mean the departmentalization of Native American Studies at Columbia?

  14. Sakaki says:

    Education is an ongoing thing. And there are different types of education that are garnered in life.

    But, wait…you’re talking about higher education. No…I’m sorry to say, but it’s not a right. It is a privilege that people go into investment debt for, a well worth privilege, but a privilege nevertheless.

    If I had a nickel for ever person who said education is a right, I would be buying an entire school district and converting it to charter schools.

  15. Cheerio says:

    Education is a right

  16. Sakaki says:

    Now THIS is comedy.

  17. Vincent. says:

    Wait, who was being sarcastic?

  18. Sean says:

    Ossie I hate you.

  19. Ossie says:

    Well, I guess I can’t speak for the entire OC staff on that one. Our token Asian Sean Jin may be opposed to parts of that comment.

  20. Ossie says:

    We are a little embarrassed about our actual position, which is why we have not let it be publicly known. But since you asked, we are all for an ethnic studies department at the University. (We

  21. CJ Ciaramella says:

    Ford, you are totally right. One obviously can’t be sarcastic and have an actual position at the same time. Things like humor, satire and sarcasm just confuse people. If only we could change our cynical ways; then we would stand matchless among our peers in sheer, rhetorical force!

    I’m sorry. Was I being sarcastic?

  22. Drew says:

    Those two woulds on top of eachother are annoying me

  23. Drew says:

    If the University of Oregon would like make a real attempt to diversify campus a Ethnic Studies Department would be a step in the right direction.

  24. Ford says:

    If the OC actually wanted to have an impact on this issue rather than just being brushed aside, it would formulate an actual position on the issue rather than appeal to sarcasm

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