LMC’s increased awareness for ethnic studies program

A senator position approved for the department

Aliyah Ramirez, Staff Writer

As Los Medanos College strives to create an inclusive and diverse environment, the curriculum has adapted to capture all perspectives. During an Academic Senate meeting last Monday, Rep. Adriana Simone proposed a larger governing body for the independent Ethnic and Social Justice Studies department. A unanimous vote passed the proposal on Feb. 13 allowing a senator position for that department, making LMC the only college in the district to hold this Senate representation. 

“Although we reside in a state where disciplines such as Ethnic Studies, Gender Studies, and LGBTQ Studies are beginning to be supported… people are being put in physical danger,” said Simone. “This is why it is more important than ever to empower them.”

According to Academic Senate President Mark Lewis, creating a change in representative members of the Senate follows the Senate Bylaws. Requiring a two-thirds vote in the Senate quorum to approve the change. Proposals are discussed and questioned during the first read, then members vote to allow the proposal to the second read for a final vote. 

However, Simone’s proposal was passed after the first reading and is set to be in effect immediately, following the vacancy in the position. 

“It was really exciting,” said Simone. “It showed a nice commitment to the issues surrounding ethnic studies and the fact that we value it and everything it looks at.”

Before California initiated the requirement for students to take an ethnic studies course to graduate with an associate’s degree or transfer to a four-year university, LMC had degrees available focused on diverse perspectives. Students can complete an associate’s degree for transfer available with a focus on African American, Chicano/a, and LGBTQ Studies as Simone describes these disciplines to be a connection to knowledge, “that was lost or that has been devalued.” 

“I think LMC has been unique because it has always valued diversity,” said Simone. “We have always housed our ethnic studies, our multicultural studies, our LGBTQ studies, and our gender studies. So we valued it before it was even institutionalized by a state requirement.”

A part of many committees in LMC, Simone graduated with a focus on Ethnic and Social Justice studies, but she did not see this field of study as her future. When completing her master’s degree as an English major at UCSB, she stumbled upon a book of poems and short stories called “Chicana Falsa: And Other Stories of Death, Identity, & Oxnard,” by Michele M. Serros. Reading the book from cover to cover, Simone realized she was in the wrong study. 

“I had missed so much historical context, educational contexts, symbolism that I wasn’t aware of. It was like getting my face hit with a bucket of water,” said Simone. “I realized that the type of work I wanted to do, which was very transdisciplinary, liberatory, and revolutionary, could not be done in an English Department.”

The Ethnic Studies and Social Justice department has expanded and with high demand, integrated more courses into the curriculum, along with a full-time hire set to join this fall. For the first time, Introduction to Black Studies (ETHN-045) and Intro to Social Justice Studies (SJS-110) will be offered this upcoming summer. 

Counselors are available to help assist in choosing classes, in addition to helping students meet transfer and GE requirements for graduation. Opportunities available to learn about diverse perspectives allow a student to gain knowledge about information that has been brushed over by a Eurocentric Western education system. 

“Growth comes from trying to understand your own, as well as others in your community, and their cultural norms, traditions, history, and values,” said Natalie Hannum, Vice President of Instruction. “Like other general education areas, it provides a breadth of study that is very relevant to our very diverse college and community.”