Larkosh, dean discuss Hispanic studies

Meghan Gordon

Hispanic studies Prof. Christopher Larkosh met with Weinberg administrators Wednesday but says he is still unsure whether student input will affect the department’s decision not to offer him a tenured position.

Larkosh, who teaches Latin American literature, called last week’s decision by students — to petition to keep him at Northwestern — just one step in evaluating larger concerns about the department.

“It’s up to the students to gauge whether these concerns are being taken seriously,” Larkosh said. “On one level, I’m not in the position to tell students what they are capable of. But that’s why we teach — because we have faith in our students.”

Members of Alianza will decide tonight whether to formally join the letter-writing campaign.

Larkosh will end his two-year visiting professorship this quarter and was not chosen in the department’s faculty search despite student support for the professor.

Weinberg Associate Dean Michael Sherry said administrators would be happy to evaluate the students’ concerns, but that they can do so only after they receive the petition. He said he wants to explore their broader disputes with the department.

“It’s fair to say that they are not concerned only about Larkosh,” Sherry said. “I want to understand how much the two are related. No doubt the college has placed a priority on improving and changing, and in some ways growth, to hire more tenure-track faculty.”

Larkosh said that upon being hired for the visiting professorship, he was told he would be considered for available tenured positions. But after applying for the search and being turned down, he said he still does not understand why the department chose other candidates.

“(They said) everything that’s been said before,” he said of the meeting. “I’ve done plenty of research and plenty of good work with the students. I don’t see anything in my record that would have disqualified me. I wouldn’t have applied for this job if I thought I was disqualified.”

Lucille Kerr, chairwoman of the Hispanic studies department, told The Daily last week that Larkosh was considered just as any other candidate for the position.

Sherry said any hiring decisions or clarifications first must be made by the department.

Larkosh said he appreciated administrators’ attempts to pursue the issue, even if they didn’t change their stance.

“I was very happy that the administrators considered the issue to be of significant importance to invite me to talk with them,” Larkosh said. “They didn’t have to do that. I was pleased that (Sherry) has recognized now that there are concerns from outside the department.”

Larkosh said that while the petition might not affect the department’s decision not to hire him, the students should continue to seek changes in the department.

“If the department doesn’t find interesting what I’m doing, I don’t see that changing,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s about me. This issue is part of a much bigger issue and the students have recognized that. It’s created a situation in which students are emboldened to air all the grievances that they’ve always had but didn’t feel as if it was effective then.

“I want these students to work hard whether I stay or whether I disappear tomorrow unnoticed. I want them to keep their eye on what’s important in all this.”