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Chicano Studies Department

June 20, 1993

* We object to The Times' complaint that, as legislators, we "overtly pressured" UCLA into creating the Cesar Chavez Center (editorial, June 8). We were asked by the hunger strikers to participate in the negotiations. We are proud to be signatories to the agreement reached, along with the hunger strikers and the UCLA administration.

We have no interest in university matters, but neither are we elected to rubber-stamp the budget submitted by higher education administrators. We vote for billions of dollars to UC for education of students. When Chancellor Charles Young asked for $823,000 to expand shelf space in the Law Library, we expressed the view that resolving the Chicano studies issue was a higher priority. Events have shown we were right to assert these views. We thank the hunger strikers for requesting our participation, and we congratulate the university for resolving this historic crisis in an equitable manner.


D-Santa Monica


D-Los Angeles

* Historian Robert Dallek declared that UCLA sacrificed its commitment to academic integrity by yielding to many of the protesters' demands regarding the creation of a Chicano studies department (Commentary, June 9). He further declared that academic disciplines must "rest on knowledge and understanding developed over long periods of time." As an illustration of this principle he cites UCLA's communication studies program which he says "is not a department because . . . (it) lacks the body of critical scholarship essential to an academic discipline."

This may be the case regarding the program at UCLA, but it is certainly untrue as it might apply to communication studies at most colleges and universities. Human communication has, of course, been systematically studied for more than 2,500 years. In fact, there are more than 400 departments of communication in the U.S., and approximately 100 universities grant doctorates in communication.

The subtext of Dallek's message is that to be considered "legitimate" a discipline must fit within some predetermined intellectual categories. He is worried that the compromise these students secured will take too much control--as well as student enrollments and resources--from the established disciplines and will thereby diminish their power. Dallek and his colleagues who share his ideological interests do not wish to relinquish control over what is taught and who is hired at UCLA.


Department of Communication Arts

and Sciences, USC

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