Vote to Departmentalize Afro-American Studies

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The Afrikan Student Union at UCLA has a rich history on the UCLA campus dating back to 1966. One of the strongest Black student demands in 1967 and 1968 was for the creation of an Afro-American Studies Center. In fact, two Black UCLA students, Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John Huggins, who were leaders within the Black Panther Party and also participants of the High Potential Program, UCLA’s first and the nations second special action admissions program, were murdered in Campbell Hall behind talks of the programs future.Consequently, progress slowed, and in the 1974-1975 academic school year, the Afro- American studies degree program was founded.

Almost 40 years later, this Friday, December 6th, 2013, the Undergraduate Council within the UCLA Academic Senate is set to vote on the proposal to convert the existing academic Interdepartmental Program (IDP) in Afro-American Studies at UCLA to an academic department that will be called the Department of African American Studies, and be housed in the Division of the Social Sciences in the College of Letters and Science.

From the very beginning of American history, Black Americans have formed an economically, socially, and culturally significant part of America. Despite the obvious importance of Black Americans, however, neither the public at large nor scholars at UCLA know much about the scope, quality, and significance of their contributions to American culture, or about the impact of their actions on the attitudes and institutions of American society and the global community.

The benefits of departmentalization are numerous. A department will attract more undergraduates, graduates, and faculty to UCLA, and promote greater retention of Black scholars and students.

For the over 100 undergraduate students that major/minor in Afro-American studies, and for the 1,200 students taking Afro- American courses each academic year, departmentalization will allow for a larger variety of classes and added support from faculty and community members. For UCLA faculty members already doing work in the area of Afrikan American studies, departmentalization will provide much needed funds to finance projects, and more effective facilitation of the exchange of ideas and information. For the larger University faculty, it will serve as a source of information that faculty members may be able to use in their own areas of special interest. Thus, the departmentalization of the African-American Studies Program further demonstrates a commitment by the University to celebrate diversity and further legitimizes the importance of the Black experience as a valid educational focus.

Traditionally, study centers have been academic institutions directing their main thrust to research and the proliferation of printed matters. This kind of exclusive academic institution would have no relevance to the Black community. Black people cannot afford the luxury of any institution that separates thought from action. Commitment must in part be measured by devotion and work.

The USAC Academic Affairs Commission, in collaboration with the Afrikan Student Union, will do everything in our power to educate the student body as to why the departmentalization of the Afro-American Studies program is important, and will work to ensure the department is well-supported for years to come.


UCLA Academic Senate- Undergraduate Council voting session

Date: Friday January 10, 2013

Location: TBA

Time: TBA


Author: Afrikan Student Union Administrative Staff 

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