Teach-in a push for Chicano courses

MERCED -- Ever since his grandmother died when he was in high school, Univer- sity of California at Merced junior Sean Lambert-Diaz missed hearing stories about her years in Mexico and the United States.

That void is what sparked the idea for petitioning faculty to create a Chicano Studies minor at UC Merced, he said. The minor, though, is just a catalyst for what Lambert-Diaz really wants -- a Chicano Studies major.

According to Rafael Maravilla, co-organizer of the movement and a UC Merced junior, Lambert-Diaz started working on creating a minor since he started at UC Merced three years ago.

Lambert-Diaz met with faculty to discuss the idea of creating the minor, Maravilla said. Together, faculty and students created a list of relevant courses for the minor.

"We submitted the proposal in mid-January and it was returned for revisions," Maravilla said. "It was said that some of the courses were not relevant."

Faculty made changes then resubmitted the proposal Thursday to the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts curriculum committee.

Meanwhile, students who support the minor held a teach-in in front of the university library Thursday.

Ismael Lara, a third-year student, dressed as a warrior and recited Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales' poem "I Am Joaquin" to a handful of UC Merced students during the first of several teach-ins.

The poem is an emblem of the 1960s Chicano movement.

"I am the sword and flame of Cortes the despot," Lara said as he faced the crowd. "And I am the eagle and serpent of the Aztec civilization."

Students and teachers will hold additional teach-ins on Mondays and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. until April 16.

Lambert-Diaz, a biological science major, said he imagines he'll hear from the curriculum committee in early April.

If approved by the curriculum committee, the proposal will then need approval from the Undergraduate Council and the Council of Academic Planning and Resource Allocation, said Christopher Viney, vice provost for undergraduate education.

The minor also needs certification by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. After that it needs to be reported to the UC system, he added.

"Starting anything new in this climate will raise questions if (the university) does not have enough resources," Viney said.

Since the students have not requested any new teachers or classes for the Chicano Studies minor, a lack of resources may not be an issue.