Friday, May 07, 2010

Flash Mob

It was interesting to be on the other side of a flash mob today, as students massed at a Council on Educational Policy meeting at UC Irvine. Perhaps I have grown too accustomed to thinking about such demonstrations coordinated by social media as focusing on events hosted by political despots and multinational corporations abroad rather than potentially turning on local bureaucracies and faculty policy wonks close by.

More students than the official room capacity could accommodate showed up, thanks to a Facebook event to "Save the multicultural requirement." I suppose had all 270 confirmed guests tried to convene in the conference room, it might have been even more difficult to have their student representatives and faculty representatives speak.

The description of the Facebook group reads as follows:

The campuswide Committee on Educational Policy will be convening at 11:30am on May 6th to vote on a proposal to eliminate UCI's multicultural and international breadth requirements.
This has already happened at UC Davis and we cannot let it happen here, especially in the current culturally and racially insensitive environment on UC campuses. The recent law (SB 1070) passed in Arizona and the similar legislation proposed in California illustrate the necessity of preserving multicultural education.

Some committee members present resented what they saw as the transmission of Internet misinformation, since removal of the requirement was certainly mot on the agenda for a vote. (The agenda item I had come to discuss never made it up for discussion.) UC Regent Live updated its post with a qualified retraction.

Others expressed appreciation for the student engagement demonstrated and the offline/online promise of participatory culture that it seemed to represent. They also argued that the group's argument for greater transparency of committee business on the Internet certainly could be valid.

A letter from Professor Rei Terada and a link to an online petition continue to make the virtual rounds.



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