I would like to take this opportunity to express some concerns of mine as a student and soon to be alumnus. My initial intent was to voice concerns for the Political Science Department towards administration in the form of a letter in efforts to channel support and resources into the department.
In recognition of, and understanding the value of other disciplines, I felt compelled not to limit the discussion to one department because in retrospect, our issues in Woodson Hall transcend and resonate across every department on campus. Allow me to explain why political science is so crucial, especially to an HBCU.
To begin, there is no other major on our campus that allows for intense study of major social and political movements within the Black community. Furthermore, it is the only Pre-Law program on campus, which serves as a great foundation for those seeking a legal career (Elements of Law, Logic, Constitutional Law, U.S. Civil Liberties, Paralegal Research & Writing Etc.).
I understand we are facing budget cuts which has been the rhetoric these days why departments are struggling (which is a topic for another letter) but it is imperative that we do everything possible for students to have the opportunity to embark on this field of study. What puzzles me most is how we can neglect such a major here at an HBCU where the Black community specifically is supposed to come and be immersed in our history.
Even with the economic climate being what it is, how can we neglect the one field of study that analyzes our very own government, which for years has and still does marginalize Blacks, minorities and women in this country? How can we empower students to be effective in maneuvering through society when we neglect the discipline that provides the foundation for it?
How can we expect our graduates from Grambling State University to go out and be game changers, community activists and reformers of various industries, when we have failed to empower the very department that provides the knowledge for this kind of work? When our very institution is marginalized and neglected by the state government of Louisiana, how can we neglect the political science department?
How can we expect Louisiana natives to graduate and be the change that our very institution as well as state government needs when we neglect and fail to empower the blueprint?. I put emphasis on political science because it indeed is necessary when discussing social and political progress for a marginalized group of people, but programs campus wide need more support and resources.
We can not continue to use budget cuts as the reason why programs are being cut, and professors are being laid off. I’m not saying this neglect has been intentional, what I am saying is that if all stakeholders of Grambling State University (alumni included) want to see the reemergence of the Tiger we must do something. What we’re doing is not enough. Our collaborations have not been enough.
I envision our program being able to send students to other universities for the summer to conduct research. I see us building relationships and networks with non-governmental and governmental agencies to provide internship opportunities for our students. I see Grambling having partnerships with public and private organizations.
The Political Science department should have a plethora of resources and opportunities for its students. As students we are working to see these visions come to fruition, but I also understand institutional structures, I understand that these efforts fall mainly on the responsibility of the university. We are here to absorb and grow from everything the institution has to offer. My question is what is being offered for our students?
This letter was not intended to call anyone out, but rather just another voice of the many who care for the future of this prestigious school. The Political Science Department needs support, resources, and professors. Academic departments across campus need support, resources and professors.
We cannot allow either this department nor any other department to dwindle. If this does happen, I fear for the adverse effects it will have on not just Grambling State University but the generation of upcoming Louisiana residents and out of state students.
If we are to progress and invest in our future, we must develop socially and politically aware people.
When we talk about “upward mobility”, politics, power dynamics, class struggle, race and gender will always be inherent due to the nature of people and society.
Students, faculty, administration, alumni, no one is going to care more about Grambling State University than us … What are we going to do?
“Being radical simply means grasping things at the root,” said Angela Davis.
Tim C. Hernandez is a senior political major from Lower East Side, NY.