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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

UCLA Professor Responds to UCLA Sociology Letter on Cuts

Regarding the letter from the UCLA sociology dept circulated to the chancellor, various administrators, the dean of social sciences, and the chairs of the other social science departments.

I am responding to one prominent feature of that message: the old refrain of creating two tiers within the UC system, this time with UCB, UCLA, and UCSD as the top tier. The UCLA sociologists do not seem aware that such moves have been proposed unsuccessfully various times during the last 25 years, at least. The UCLA sociologists signing the message also do not seem to realize that California already has a three tier system defined much as they are proposing: in effect, they are suggesting that 7 UC campuses be demoted to the CSU system; of course, that system too is facing severe budget cuts. [Some in the CSU system might be proposing demoting some of their campuses to the community college system.] All that might happen, but past efforts suggest that it will not.

Perhaps UCLA sociologists are convinced that the sociology departments at 7 UC campuses are inferior to those at UCB, UCLA, and UCSD. I doubt that people in most UC departments could form such a consensus.

As for excising programs within each campus: clearly, universities do change over time and waning research/teaching topics eventually disappear. For example, fifty years from now the UCLA history department will not include the same allocation of resources to the same topics as it does now. Obvious as that might be, I do not see the intellectual or political will to accelerate the process in departments and divisions across UC or CSU.

In a contracting ecology it is not surprising that some want to kick others out, rather than uniting to
* resist authoritarian decision making
* obtain transparent budget information
* engage in the hard work of reframing our mission and how to achieve that within a new budget ecology.

Sharon Traweek
UCLA Women's Studies and History


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