UCSD Music Dept Response to Racist Incidents on Campus
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The UCSD Music Department has taken note of the recent string of racially charged events on and around campus with revulsion and deep concern. We support the "Faculty Statement on Racism and Campus Climate at UCSD," the various statements of other departments, and the actions of the Black Student Union. Numerous discussions have taken place within Music amongst faculty and students, and we are in the process of examining our own policies. A short statement from the perspective of the Music Department follows.
As a public institution, our responsibility is to teach and practice critical engagement with the complex fabric of American culture. A pervasive obliviousness and insularity within our community seems to us the background to the horrendously insensitive and hurtful actions of the last weeks; but recent events have escalated from stupidity to outright bigotry.
A public university has a mission to address historical inequality. While efforts to diversify our campus have obviously been made, the statistics on student and faculty demographics remain embarrassing. We need to acknowledge our failures, and be accountable for addressing them, both collectively and individually. We must all take individual responsibility for educating ourselves about racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and other forms of structural inequality.
Issues of culture, ethnicity, and institutional power lie at the foundation of the study of music, and we have a responsibility to engage them. The Music Department currently offers immersive courses in diverse practices of music-making; an undergraduate major in musics of the African diaspora; and numerous lecture courses examining American popular traditions and world musics. There is still more that we can do. Music can be a powerful catalyst for outreach, and we recognize the urgent need to reach younger students in the San Diego community, before assumptions about inequality or destructive stereotypes are irreversibly ingrained. We must intensify our support of these efforts, but we need institutional backing for the sustainability of these programs.
The current fiscal crisis raises the stakes. We are now reaping the results of years of not-so-benign neglect when it comes to enrolling and graduating students from historically underrepresented demographics. Any serious effort to remedy this neglect will require money and resources. The budget crisis makes this highly challenging, but cannot excuse us from responsibilities that cut to the core of our mission as a public institution. Moves to aggressively raise fees and target out-of-state enrollment will further reduce access for underrepresented students. The future of our university depends on decisions made in the immediate future, and we are committed to assuming responsibility for whatever role we can take in this process.