[iDC] It Doesn't Just Get Better, This Is Political

Margaret Morse morse at ucsc.edu
Thu Dec 9 20:42:17 UTC 2010

Dear Micha,
I was very moved by your outrage and frustration.  I can't speak for  
UCSD, but I think UC Santa Cruz was also established in an isolated  
and beautiful area on a hill and given architecture without a center.   
It might well have a few friendly spots in it for trannies, judging  
from a couple of my students.   The campus generates microclimates  
that can support difference, but then it takes a conscious effort and  
dedication to overcome an often unconscious apartheid that creates  
seams and paths that keep people apart even when they are together  
throughout daily life, in town, in dorms and in the classroom.  I am  
glad the Chancellor has established an initiative this year to work on  
this problem.

  I met a retired diplomat (Middle East, Balkan war) two years ago who  
developed literature and a method of student run "sustained dialog".   
The method indicates that this dialogue between the races (in this  
case) takes sustained effort over a longer time frame.  His name is  
Harold Saunders, www.sustaineddialogue.org.  He mentioned that it was  
in use at Stanford and a few other campuses.   Perhaps someone knows  
if it has achieved any successes and if it is still being supported by  
students. The guidebook is built using diplomatic techniques and  
experiences and possibly South African truth and reconciliation  
methods so we know it can have ghastly failures as well heartening  
successes.  I personally walk across the seams whenever I can, but I'm  
thinking about how I can join an initiative to work toward widespread  
and lasting results of inclusion.

RE dialogue, I think it gets longer term results than protest, but  
protest has to be there to draw attention and resources (hopefully) to  
the problem.   Thinking about Obama's faith in dialogue, however, when  
the "other side" would llke to take over and abolish the US government  
it gives me pause.  There has to be a necessity for and commitment to  
dialogue for it to really happen.  There has to be a more complex  
strategy for the coming dreadful years in US politics and economic  
policy.  (It occurs to me that the war in Afghanistan has become a  
strange mixture of entry level dialogue, drones and IEDs for our  
soldiers.  It is certainly a new kind of fighting compared to Vietnam  
and Gulf Wars I and II.)  A rethink or "concept work" is probably in  
order for me to sort out what might be productive to do now rather  
than relying solely on traditional understandings of dialogue.

Thinking about those who are excluded from the university as teachers-- 
including yourself--requires even greater consideration and long term  
effort since it involves redesigning a system that relies on cheap,  
disposble labor. I was a disposable "gypsy scholar" fo many years and  
was often told that my work record was "not real."  Nothing counted  
and the longer I was in that status the worse my chances were of  
getting out.  I wrote my way of it.  Now the "gysies" are being shed  
from an educational system fighting for economic survival.  What to  
do?  Especially if this shedding results in less diverse faculty and  
teaching pools.

Thanks for sharing your anguish with us!  I hope that people who are  
far more practiced in dealing with the seams directly will weigh in.   
I could use some help and ideas for when I return to teaching in 2011.

Margaret Morse

U of California Santa Cruz on sabbatical in Berlin

On Dec 9, 2010, at 3:17 AM, micha cárdenas wrote:

> http://occupyeverything.com/features/it-doesnt-just-get-better-this-is-political/
> Last week was the first Queering the Campus Mixer at UCSD, organized  
> by SPACES and the Transnational Queer & Transgender Studies Research  
> and Curriculum Group, including a large effort from Sarah Shim. I  
> wanted to add a comment to the discussion in the open forum, but I  
> left the event crying and didn’t really feel like talking to people  
> at that point.
> Early in the conversation, the group was discussing the need they  
> feel for more queer and trans spaces on campus. One person in the  
> circle, to paraphrase, said that they feel that this campus is the  
> most homophobic environment they’ve ever been in. This person went  
> on to say that they don’t know how the rest of us manage to do it,  
> to come here day to day and face the coldness, the hostility, the  
> feeling that everyone here is against you. Going on, they said that  
> they feel like this campus is so cold that it goes beyond just  
> homophobia, that everyone ignores each other, that the buildings  
> feel like they are against you, the air, the cement. It’s like  
> death, they said, this place is like death.
> ...
> The question I want us to ask is: who feels welcome here? And why?  
> Certainly some people feel very welcome on this campus, from the  
> looks of how they walk around. I’m sure you have someone in mind who  
> you’ve seen on campus recently. Since the mixer, I’ve been haunted  
> by this question, reconsidering what I see at this school.
> Read the rest at:
> http://occupyeverything.com/features/it-doesnt-just-get-better-this-is-political/
> -- 
> micha cárdenas
> Co-Author, Trans Desire / Affective Cyborgs, Atropos Press, http://is.gd/daO00
> Lecturer, Visual Arts Department, University of California, San Diego
> Lecturer, Critical Gender Studies Program, University of California,  
> San Diego
> Artist/Researcher, UCSD School of Medicine
> Artist/Theorist, bang.lab, http://bang.calit2.net
> blog: http://transreal.org
> gpg: http://is.gd/ebWx9
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