CSUF Humanities Building Reclaimed

Posted in Uncategorized by makebelievecommittee on March 3, 2010

Barricade inside of Humanities, CSUF

As of 3AM, CSU Fullerton’s 8-story Humanities building has been barricaded from the inside by some fairly heavy materials.

Why Occupy? And Why the Humanities Building?

First and foremost, it is important for us to express our unease with the term “occupation.” The term’s historical indebtedness to militarization/colonial exploitation is difficult to disassociate. We use the term merely as a means of putting ourselves in direct solidarity with the “occupations” that have been occurring the world over from universities to factories to foreclosed homes; from Asia to Europe to Africa to central and south America and, now, here in the United States. They are happening and they are growing. The term that is perhaps more appropriate, and which still expresses the spirit of these movements, is “reclamation.”

Now to the question: why reclaim? Well, none other than CSUF’s own strategic planner Michael Parker, as well the university’s administration, has put out the call. In a document that was released as “pre-event reading” for the President’s Planning Retreat held on January 20th, 2010 Parker wrote the following:

If degrees obviously lead to jobs in fields like healthcare, public administration and pre-legal training, science and engineering, research support, communications, business, pre-medical and dental training that can be seen as crucial to society, then we make our case. More esoteric offerings such as literature, philosophy, fine arts, and so forth will only be justified in the minds of the public as they are clearly related to practical concerns. The fact that these are traditional parts of comprehensive universities is no longer a strong enough argument to the public. (p. 5)

Parker’s argument is that, given the current social mandate (i.e. the demand for high level job preparation in areas like public administration, business and communications), the Schools of Humanities and Arts, along with their subsequent disciplines, are “socially irrelevant.”

However, the term “social mandate” is duplicitous as it, in reality, refers to no social body whatsoever. Instead, it refers to various components of the global economy. As Parker writes: “…international corporations, the European economic Union, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other international trade groups have become an organizing principle for society and are once again reshaping the nature of universities.” (p. 10) Thus, it seems clear to us that the Schools of Humanities and Arts are not “socially” irrelevant but, instead, “economically” irrelevant and, even, politically dangerous to the established economic order that has become an “organizing principle for society.”

Throughout the Presidents Planning Retreat document, as well as another document by Parker entitled “Strategic Planning Activities 10-08 to 09-09”, students, faculty and staff are consistently referred to as “human capital”, “producers”, “consumers” as well as short- and long-term “payoffs” meant for “repurposing” and “downsizing”. It is in the Schools of Humanities and Arts that we learn both the facts and expressions of various forms of social resistance to the commodification of everything – even the commodification of our lives. And it is precisely these programs (Afro-Ethnic Studies, Chicana and Chicano Studies, Asian American Studies, Women’s Studies, Modern Languages, Classical Guitar, and so many more) that show us a world beyond mere commodities and engage critically with the established order of the global economy, that Parker designates as “merely desirable” and “non-essential.” WE are not surprised because WE are dangerous.

And this is precisely why we are reclaiming the Humanities building: because we do not trust an administration that seeks to marginalize alternative narratives to the University of Phoenix business model (p. 10); because we cannot acquiesce to a university administration that called the 2007 CSUF on-campus noose-hangings merely an “offensive act” and not a hate crime; because we refuse to allow the absence of any disruption to a university system that seeks to expel Muslim students at UC Irvine for protesting a pro-Zionist speaker while a woman who hangs a noose at UC San Diego faces mere suspension; because it is absolutely impossible to offer our complicity towards the systematic downsizing of staff and adjunct faculty; and, finally, because we offer our solidarity to the Tongva Indians who, for 18 years, have been fighting developers to preserve the Puvunga, a burial ground on the western edge of campus of CSU Long Beach.

As our project may be to open the school of Humanities to the communities beyond the university context, those outside might ask: why the barricades? The school of Humanities cannot be a truly autonomous space until we have built the community to defend it, to ensure a space devoid of police, university and state violence and repression. As Michael Parker and the university administration have put the call out to reclaim spaces, we put the call out to those communities that wish to oppose systematic and conventional racism, classism and sexism.

For the full Michael Parker documents:




4 Responses

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  1. Dr. Arturo F. Jasso said, on March 9, 2010 at 2:38 am

    With all due respect, I think Mr. Parker is just a technocrat. And as such, his ideas about the university’s education, are, in all honesty, idiotic. It is obvious that Mr. Parker does not know that each language is a peculiar way of seeing the world and that music, whether is piano,violin, classical guitar, etc., is a vital part of our souls just as important as the “practical” disciplines that he mentions as “relevant”. And the same goes for literature. It is beyond my comprehension how a person so culturally ignorant is able to hold the position that he has in our university. President Gordon should fire him and appoint a person of culture and sensitivity. It is painfully obvious that Mr. Parker has neither.

  2. makebelievecommittee said, on March 10, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Unfortunately, Michael Parker was given the title Interim Director of University Planning by President Gordon. Furthermore, Gordon stated that Parker “…is one of the most trusted people on campus” and that “it’s great to have him back.”


  3. Violeta Viadero said, on April 30, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    I could not agree more with Dr. Jasso. Mr. Parker’s stance on the importance of the School of Humanities and Arts is not only showcases his narrow mindedness and ignorance but is outright dangerous. It’s that kind of mentality that facilitates the fostering graduating classes of college graduates that go into the corporate world with a distorted or non existing sense of ethics; eventually leading us into the kind of crisis’s that plague our society today. A society that values profits over ethics.

    –I’m an Alumni of CSUF’s College of Business but would not be the person I am today were it not for the valuable education I experienced via the School of Humanities.

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