Albion College kicked off the beginning of Ethnic Studies Week with a rally attended by an estimated 15 students on the front steps of Baldwin on Monday, Oct. 4.
Ethnic Studies Week is a national campaign organized by 226 “initiators”, consisting of college professors and high school teacher from 27 different states across all parts of the country. This week has come about in response to Arizona’s passage of House Bill 2281 in May 2010, which bans Ethnic Studies programs in the state, proclaiming that they promote “ethnic chauvinism.”
Eric Highers, Monroe junior and president of the Albion College Ethnic Studies Scholars, said the national goal of Ethnic Studies Week is to highlight the importance of ethnic studies and what the programs truly stand for.
“Ethnic Studies Week is an attempt to demonstrate the value of our discipline, the value of multicultural education and how our programs are truly about broadening the representation of American history to reflect its true pluralist nature and foundation,” Highers said.
Ethnic studies major Hannah Mills, Plymouth junior, stayed actively involved in the activities of the week.
“This week represents the beginning of a national movement to defend our right to teach and learn ethnic studies while in school in not only Arizona, but everywhere,” Mills said.
On Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010 producer/director Eric Byler presented his documentary “9500 Liberty” in Norris Hall which was attended by nearly 75 students. Byler’s documentary told the story of a small Virginia county’s issues with anti-immigration legislation similar to Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, which required all immigrants to carry paperwork proving citizenship with them at all times and was passed two weeks before House Bill 2281.
The student organizers at Albion College went one step further with Ethnic Studies Week, addressing not only House Bill 2281 but other legislation and issues that have been raised concerning anti-immigration issues.
“We wanted to encourage people to contemplate what it means to be part of an ethnic community and immigrant fabric of our nation that makes up our pluralist American identity and how removing Ethnic Studies programs influences that,” Highers said. “This issue is so much more complex than just policy about ‘illegal’ immigrants or banning programs that are seen as ‘anti-U.S.’ It’s really about our fear and anxiety of the changes occurring in our nation.”
The national website can be found at http://www.ethnicstudiesweekoctober1-7.org/.
More information on Byler’s presentation can be found at http://www.9500liberty.com/.