Faculty Senate to vote on increasing Senate representation


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Offices of Asian American Studies and Latina and Latino Studies Programs at 1819 Hinman Ave. Professors in the Council for Race and Ethnic Studies, a unit that includes AASP and LLSP, currently lack representation in the Faculty Senate.

Waverly Long, Assistant Campus Editor

Even though NU gave the Asian American Studies and the Latina and Latino Studies Programs the ability to hire, promote and tenure faculty in 2018, those faculty are still not all represented on the Faculty Senate. Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on a proposition to base Senate representation on tenure home units in addition to departments.

“There are currently 97 Senate seats and so if we did this, that would bring us up to 98,” Economics Prof. Mark Witte said at the January Faculty Senate meeting. “It doesn’t particularly change the value of the franchise, but it does seem like the cleanest way to make sure that everybody has at least some Senator they can go to with their concerns.”

The proposed change connects to years of ongoing student and faculty efforts to increase ethnic studies’ presence on campus. The advocacy resulted in the creation of AASP and LLSP, and most recently, the creation of the Council for Race and Ethnic Studies to allow AASP and LLSP to hire and tenure faculty.

History and Latina and Latino Studies Prof. Geraldo Cadava, who also serves as LLSP director, said the Council’s mission expanded after it received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2018. Cadava said the $2.75 million grant allows CRES to hire more faculty, develop its curriculum and advance research.

“Faculty members within CRES (have been discussing) what we want CRES to be,” Cadava said. “Do we want it to remain just a vehicle for hiring and promotion into programs, or do we want to see it as a kind of incubator for ethnic studies, classes, research, faculty (and) community outreach at Northwestern?”

Cadava said he feels AASP and LLSP are well-supported under the current NU administration, although there has been a history of ethnic studies not being recognized as a legitimate field of study nation-wide.

However, according to Asian American Studies and African American Studies Prof. and AASP Director Nitasha Sharma, the Mellon Foundation’s grant runs through to 2023. Sharma raised questions about what happens after.

“After 2023, (the grant) could be renewed (by the Mellon foundation), but it might not be,” Sharma said. “We do not know if the administrators at Northwestern are committed to CRES as a long-standing program. How can it not (be), if we’re actually hiring people whose membership is in CRES? And then what happens once that funding is dried up?”

Sharma said the creation of CRES was a positive step toward giving ethnic studies proper recognition on campus, but the fact that AASP and LLSP are not departments limits them beyond their lack of Senate representation. If the programs were to become departments, Sharma said they would have more of a say in the direction of their fields on campus and would be able to provide students with more steady course offerings and greater faculty availability.

Cadava also said departmentalization would be one way to help support ethnic studies at NU, although he said developing the field of study, in whatever form it takes, is most important to him.

“There are still a lot of holes that we need to fill in our curricular offerings and our own research areas of expertise,” Cadava said. “I hope that (NU) continues to support our growth.”

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Twitter: @waverly_long

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