LMC welcomes social justice major

LETICIA ROBLES, Staff writer

Los Medanos College is offering a new social justice major. San Francisco State University was the first school to offer the major, and now LMC is following their lead.

“The same people that created the social justice major created the ethnic studies department,” said Tue Rust, math professor.

LMC is looking to hire new professors to teach social justice, though for now it has been incorporated into a handful of English courses.

“Social justice major digs into ethnic studies, students with a degree in ethnic studies graduate at a higher rate,” Janice Townsend, child development professor, said. “Social Justice is about making the world a better place, it’s about empowerment, not just about the history of yourself. It connects you to others, affinity of the things we all differ and share in common as humans.”

Professors Jeffrey Matthews, Tess Caldwell, Janise Townsend and Tue Rust helped craft the major and will continue do so until the college hires a professor with the right qualifications to teach the students in the most diverse way possible.

“I know LMC wanted this degree for a while now. Now that the district is profitable, money is coming in and more money can now go towards it,” Rust explained.

The hiring pool so far is limited, however. LMC has candidates for new professors, yet none of them have caught the eye of faculty and staff nor the district.

“We need to spread the word and get someone on board with us with this major. Someone who is focused on equality and does the research for the field,” said Rust.

For now, the ethnic studies, African-American History, gender studies and other classes involved with social justice, are being taught by a group of passionate professors. The group goes out of their way to create the courses.

“It’s about trying to new stuff. it pushes you beyond yourself and the issues that go for social justice,” said Rust.

A lot of difficulty has come with developing this degree. Rebranding it as its own subject rather than an English course, expanding it to into Group B, placing it in all of the transfer areas so that more students are issues the group is working out. Making it fill into ethnic studies, english, gender study and even history. There has also been some controversy with looking into having a caucasian professor or an African-American professor teach African-American history.

“I’m an ally in the work. I want to make it a better place here at LMC. I hear both the good and bad things the more I get involved, being an ally is tough, we put a social justice degree but we need an ethnic studies one.” said Townsend.

LMC is currently offering two Associate of Arts for Transfer degrees in Social Justice Studies:

African American Studies, Social Science 150, ethnicity, social science/english 136, gender studies, social science/english 110, social science studies, history 061, african- americans since 1865, english 129, american literature, social science 045 and african studies. “These majors enable students to transfer to CSUs, and if accepted to corresponding major at the CSU, e.g. African-American or LGBTQ studies, they will accept their lower division coursework here toward their Bachelor’s degree in that major.” Dean Nancy Ybarra explains.

Ybarra also explains, “we have qualified faculty to teach all of these courses. The programs were approved by Academic Senate and the courses were approved by our Curriculum Committee.”