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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Ethnic studies restraints opposed

The UA Faculty Senate voted unanimously to declare its opposition to H.B. 2281, otherwise known as the “”Ethnic Studies Bill,”” during their meeting on Monday.

The bill, a brainchild of Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, is designed to prohibit the teaching of classes that promote the “”overthrow of the U.S. government or resentment toward a race or class of people.”” The bill also forbids classes that “”are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group”” or “”advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.””

The bill would not affect Native American students, since portions of their curricula are determined in part by federal law.

“”It’s not only disturbing and distasteful, but it really sends the wrong message to both Arizona and its students,”” said J.C. Mutchler, secretary of the Faculty Senate.

Mutchler decried the “”hazy”” and “”bizarre”” language of the bill as some primary reasons for his opposition and that, though the bill itself does not explicitly bar ethnic studies classes from being taught, the motivation of the bill is clear enough.

“”The overall message of the bill itself being passed is that … it really is filed against Hispanic American students,”” Mutchler said.

Last spring the senate passed a similar measure voicing their opposition to S.B. 1070 after that bill was passed. Though Mutchler admitted that resolution did nothing to affect the final wording of the bill, he stressed in this instance “”silence implies consent.””

Bill Conway, an associate professor of mathematics, questioned whether passing a resolution condemning the bill could cost the UA state funding, a concern that UA President Robert Shelton dismissed.

“”I don’t think it has an impact one way or the other on the fiscal aspect,”” Shelton said. “”Some of the members (of the Legislature) want to take away all of our money no matter what. Some are supportive. Most of them, I think, actually put some thought into the role of higher education.””

Some senate members wondered out loud what the bill would mean in the future.

“”I think this could be just a beginning of things to come if we don’t think carefully about this,”” S. Mae Smith, a representative from the College of Education, said.

Others took a more light-hearted approach in their opposition.

“”I personally find it fascinating that we’re not allowed to teach anything about promoting the overthrow of the United States government and I’m, you know, really heartened that they don’t say anything about the state government of Arizona,”” Tsianina Lomawaima, the chair of the UA Graduate Council, said.  

Lomawaima went on to state her belief that the bill was based on an “”extremely powerful set of stereotypes”” and represented a “”personal, political agenda”” on the part of Horne.  

“”I do think fear is the operative word here,”” she said.

The motion passed without dissent or abstention.

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