Much Ado About D.O.C.

    Thurgood Marshall College Provost Allen Havis listens as audience members address the college’s controversial Dimensions of Culture program at a town hall meeting April 16. The forum provided students and faculty members with an opportunity to voice their concerns to TMC administrators. (Will Parson/Guardian)

    Yesterday afternoon, the town hall meeting held to discuss
    the findings of two curricular reports on Thurgood
    Marshall
    College
    ’s
    Dimensions of Culture writing program erupted in a string of public accusations
    that TMC Provost Alan Havis and D.O.C. Director Abraham Shragge were failing to
    commit to the reports’ recommendations and quality undergraduate education.

    Related Links
    March 3, 2008 — "Committee Finds Merit to D.O.C. Curriculum Complaints"

    June 4, 2007 — "D.O.C. Walkout Elicits Promise of Progress"


    May 14, 2007 — "Critique in Action"

    April 30, 2007 — "Dissenting TAs Ousted from D.O.C. Program"

    At the meeting, UCSD students and faculty members posed
    questions to a panel composed of members of the student-run Academic Council of
    Excellence, the Faculty Curricular Committee and Provost Havis about the
    content, pedagogy and administrative practices of the D.O.C. program. Some of
    the structural concerns raised included the absence of ladder-rank faculty,
    shortage of educational resources, controversial content material and the lack
    of collaboration among faculty and teaching assistants.

    A.C.E. and FCC — curricular committees charged with
    evaluating the writing program — recently released two comprehensive reports
    suggesting a mass overhaul of the program.

    The release of the reports has fueled further criticism and
    protest against Shragge, who in a controversial move to not rehire two D.O.C.
    teaching assistants last spring quarter.

    At a climactic point during the forum, UCSD literature
    profesor Luis Cabrera called to have Shragge ousted from his administrative
    position, claiming that Shragge’s dismissal was needed in order to successfully
    enact the recommendations outlined by the
    reports.

    Scott Boehm, one of the two D.O.C. teaching assistants
    dismissed last year, said that Shragge has worsened many of the weaknesses
    associated with the writing program.

    “Shragge’s silence on the curriculum committee report, just
    like his obstinacy during the D.O.C. conflict last spring, further demonstrates
    how out of touch he is with campus consensus that D.O.C must change,” Boehm
    said.

    Other audience members voiced concerns that the TMC and
    D.O.C. administrations would fail to implement the changes in the report,
    especially because executive decisions regarding changes to the structure of an
    undergraduate writing course require the creation of an implementation
    committee.

    Literature professor Jorge Mariscal said that the TMC
    administration should act now rather than continue to debate changes to the
    program.

    “Pre-emptive action, not more committees, will go a long way
    to creating the space that you mentioned in your commitment to implement the
    changes made by the faculty committee,” Mariscal said.

    Havis, however, reassured concerned audience members
    that TMC administrators were taking the
    necessary measures in following implementation procedures.

    “Doing a meeting like today is good faith that we are in
    change,” he said. “Doing a meeting like today [means] that we are thinking of
    the implementation of the report. We project perhaps too much pessimism about
    next year or in next two months. This is really bad thinking in my idea because
    we are going forward. We have to have the willingness to believe that the
    process is unfolding.”

    Despite these reassurances, many TMC faculty members
    continued to voice their doubts over the effective implementation of the two
    curricular reports’ findings.

    History professor David Gutierrez, chair of FCC, said that
    the current D.O.C. faculty would have to be cleaned out in order to facilitate
    the future realization of the curriculum reports’ recommendations.

    A number of D.O.C. TAs have expressed that under the current
    administration they feel unwelcome and discouraged from expressing curricular
    suggestions to faculty members for fear of hostile reaction to their ideas.

    “I feel that there has been an atmosphere of hostility,”
    D.O.C. lecturer Lynn Ta said. “In fact, I was told that my suggestions were
    quote ‘horseshit.’ This is extremely unprofessional to me.”

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