Feminist Studies Newsletter, Spring 2020

April 16, 2020



CHAIR’S LETTER: Spring 2020

Hello Feminist Studies Community,

We are living in a strange time. For some, the precarity of this moment is even more devastating. For others, the opportunity to witness a global pause from capitalism offers a rare opportunity for us to reflect on, and rebuild, the future.

During the winter quarter, UCSC graduate students had already stopped business as usual through a massive strike and campus picket, supported in great part by our undergraduate students. They challenged us to arrest our daily routines, to come together, hear each other out, and fight to imagine a university and world livable for all. 

For this reason, in this newsletter we wanted to highlight the place where the rivers meet, between the Graduate Strike and the COVID-19 epidemic. We turn our attention to the confluence of precarious workers, students, family members, friends, and community members who remind us that neoliberal capitalist approaches to education, housing, food, and knowledge utterly fail the vast majority. Many of us refuse the fear-mongering spread by mainstream media that promises us a world of chaos if we don’t return to a consumer-based model of capitalism. As feminists, we refuse this logic and find this moment, a pause from the capitalist tempo, just the opportunity to reflect upon and rebuild a society that centers people, the environment, and the longing for freedom over profit. I look forward to embarking on this world with you all. 

While the majority of this issue focuses on the Graduate Strike and Coronavirus, I also want to share some wonderful news. We are proud to introduce two new faculty joining us this fall in the fields of Black Diaspora Studies and Indigenous Feminisms. First, we welcome Professor Gina Ulysse, an accomplished cultural anthropologist, feminist ethnographer, and Caribbeanist (who works on Jamaica and Haiti), as well as an internationally recognized performance artist and poet. We also are thrilled to welcome Professor Katie Keliiaa, an Indigenous Feminist Historian versant in the interdisciplinary fields of Native American Studies, Labor Studies, and Feminist/Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. Her scholarship excavates little-known histories of Native boarding schools and interprets them not simply as projects of education or assimilation, but instead, as part of the broader history of labor and dispossession that continues the U.S. project of settler colonialism, genocide, and surveillance of Native bodies.

Felicity Amaya Schaeffer

Associate Professor and Chair, Feminist Studies Department, UCSC 

picket_flyer_100x100.jpgTHOUGHTS ABOUT THE GRAD STRIKE AND #COLA  

 Learn more about the #COLA grad strike at www.payusmoreucsc.com and follow on twitter #cola4all  

     Before COLA, I didn’t think about myself in a larger context of community here at UC Santa Cruz. Before COLA, I knew I was a global citizen in training (a citizen of no borders, but of people, places, things, “together”), but I did not think about how important it was to be a part of a community here at UCSC. What brought me to not just COLA, but to continue preserving and pushing for a life I want to lead, are the graduate students here at UCSC. In Nick Mitchell’s FMST 20 class, FMST graduate student Zia Puig said that supporting COLA was a personal choice, and that the time was nowwhere we are building to create a place where education and love are supported. They described a world I wanted to live in and be a part of. A world where graduate student Taylor Wondergem showed me to value myself - my own knowledge - instead of looking for validation within a systemic institution that did not see me for who I really am. A real person. With a body, mind and soul. A world where graduate student Anne Napatalung taught me the value of our bodies, importance of Nature, of listening and the environment and its wisdom. And a world where graduate student Halima Kazem taught me that truth prevails, that we are powerful storytellers. I love my TAs and they deserve a COLA, but also they deserve to live fully, abundantly, and freely. I appreciate everything they have shared with me. COLA has brought me closer, and if not touch upon: the community, the change and the love I wish to be in and create in this world.

     - Natalie V. Valencia Espitia, Feminist Studies Undergraduate

     I didn’t have to take loans for my undergraduate degree at UC Santa Cruz. When I lived here between 2000 and 2005, a roomy one-bedroom apartment was $800 per month. As a master’s student at NYU between 2006 and 2008, I took loans in order to focus exclusively on getting into a Ph.D. program. During my Ph.D. at UT Austin between 2009 and 2015, I made $1,300 a month (while teaching) and my one-bedroom apartment was $795, so 60% of my income went to rent. I took out loans for five summers, my exam year, part of my fieldwork year, and one of my two dissertation writing years. I put conference expenses, books, and every other imaginable expense on credit cards. After grad school, my partner and I had years of living across several states and limited conference funding on postdocs, adding to our already substantive credit card debt. I now have $28,628 in credit card debt and $159,390 in student loan debt. I pay $918.75 per month to my student loans alone and have not scratched the surface of the principal. And the Public Loan Forgiveness Program, to which I’ve made consecutive monthly payments since I graduated in 2015, becomes more of a fiction every day.

     We went to graduate school at a time when you could still take out large loans and you could still imagine a job that would allow you to pay them back. I promised if I ever got here, as faculty, I would never shrug and explain this inequity as “just how grad school is.” When I returned to Santa Cruz in 2018 as faculty, a one-bedroom apartment was $2,000 minimum. Our graduate students make $2,434 a month. It is unconscionable to pay them less than it costs to live, eat, work, and learn in Santa Cruz. It is egregious to punish them for striking for a living wage — with militarized police, disciplinary action, firings, de facto deportation, and loss of health care. These are not conditions under which education of any sort can thrive. As faculty in Feminist Studies and Critical Race & Ethnic Studies, I wholly and unequivocally support the campaign for a Cost of Living Adjustment. The University relies on our FMST and CRES grad students to teach the classes that fulfill UCSC’s diversity requirements (which the Administration then uses as an alibi for its institutional racism). Our students who do this work, and who make our work possible, need to be reinstated immediately — and with a COLA.

     - Jenny Kelly, Assistant Professor, Feminist Studies, UCSC

     Along with many of my peers in Feminist Studies, I was fired for withholding grades in February. The 80 or so of us who were fired are now figuring out healthcare, enrollment, and income in the face of a global pandemic. Yet beyond the administration’s punitive response to a very reasonable and necessary demand for a living wage, what remain most meaningful to me are the forms of community we have built in the emergent spaces of the strike.

      On one level, this strike highlights the ongoing violences and contradictions of the neoliberal university that UCSC works so hard to obfuscate – its self-congratulatory motto, “The Original Authority on Questioning Authority,” being a case in point. For instance, in the university’s response to our grading strike, we see how little they are actually invested in the teaching and learning conditions of graduate and undergraduate students. Instead, it reveals an increasing investment in grades as a commodity that can be bought and sold, often with student debt, prioritizing the awarding of degrees rather than the experience of learning. The strike is also demonstrative of ongoing trends within higher education more broadly, including but beyond UC Santa Cruz: undergraduate debt, militarized police on campus, and the casualization of educational labor – most specifically in the structural precarity of lecturers.

      Yet, even while the university spent $300,000 per day to police our picket, and cops in full riot gear from around the Bay Area stood a few hundred feet from us, a powerful schedule of daily teach-ins and workshops emerged – from critical university studies to the pragmatics of legal observation and mutual aid. Fred Moten came to the picket one day and, speaking under a tree, mentioned Spivak’s description of liberatory education: “The noncoercive rearrangement of desire.” This is precisely my experience of working alongside friends and colleagues the last few months. Academia as an institution structures us into isolation. Yet in this strike, we are restructuring the possibilities of being, thinking, and acting together. This is the kind of education I want and will work for; we are striking for the conditions to make it possible.  

     - Vivian Underhill, FMST Graduate Student UCSC

     If you’d asked me last September if the COLA campaign could have spread and inspired massive community the way it did this year, I would have responded with a sarcastic laugh. It’s been many years since I’ve found academia to be a space of real political possibility. Although I can’t really say why. Feminist Studies students are constantly pushing me to imagine political possibility in places and institutions that I have written off. Their creativity and energy for pushing for social and political transformation is unrelenting and beautiful.

     But to have this campaign build across a campus of students, disciplined as we all are into very different modes of being, was more than I could have expected. It did though. COLA’s reach has spanned disciplines, departments, programs, graduate, undergraduate, faculty, and staff. I saw my colleagues use so many inspiring tactics to develop a strategy of change that has now spread across the UCs. It was sparked by anger and despair at getting needs met, and turned into love and visioning. It continues to meet hostility and rage, but has allowed us to deeply build community and mutual aid. The lessons of this campaign are ongoing, and I am very grateful. However, we are still fighting, and to do that we need to keep our community together. Please consider donating to the FMST Go Fund Me

     - Lani Hanna, FMST Graduate Student, UCSC 

     Cola4all: May We Revolt! Emerged in relation of complementarity to the graduate student-workers wildcat strike — @Cola4all is now an autonomous movement of student-workers reimagining the UC system.  We cultivate timespaces for/by black, indigenous, queer, trans, non-binary, disabled, non-christian, undocumented, refugees, immigrants, and/or working-lower class folks to rehearse the world(s) we knowfeelpossible. We break settled neoliberal logics through concrete direct actions that change the material conditions of possibility defining our daily precarious existences. Today, we see what seemed to be invisible: The impossible was always an option. Questioning the very foundations of this institution: We have dared to hope. Transcending B/borderlands—Love, Care, and Kindness are the magic matters making our reality. We now know what to wish for: May We Revolt!

    I wrote a poem for one of our first direct actions in December. That day we decided to make a collective altar to honor our ancestors. Then, I shared these words at The People’s Coalition general assembly (learn more at www.aplaceforus.love). Finally, I read it at our FMST 20 class — the first day of “Strike University” with Professor Nick Mitchell. 

     - Zia Puig, FMST Graduate Student, UCSC

     Here is the beginning of Zia’s poem; to read the full poem, go here.

Magic Matter(s)—
There is magic around. Can you feel it—or is it just me?
It is fuzzing between us, glowing among us, materialized through us, existing within us.
Can you feel it—or is it just me?
We are alchemists of change.

     As a chronically ill/disabled student, the importance of this strike and the need for a COLA is only heightened by the current COVID pandemic.Disabled and sick/immunocompromised students are at SEVERE risk during this crisis, as contracting the virus could be fatal for us. Without being able to afford access to housing that can keep us safe during COVID (as too many of us live in rundown, overcrowded, moldy communal housing), we are unable to stay safe. Without being able to afford the food and medical supplies we need to survive on a regular day, let alone during a global crisis and mass shortage of basic survival essentials, this increases the likelihood that we will contract the virus and experience life-threatening symptoms and possible fatality.

     Right now, there is so much to learn from disabled and sick people about collective organizing and community care, as being unable to leave the house for months is nothing new to us. We should all be listening to and learning from Disability Justice activists (such as FMST graduate student Zia Puig) as they have long been organizing under conditions of reduced mobility, quarantine and “social distancing.” I am deeply grateful for my fellow FMST graduate students as we have demonstrated collective care to one another and will leave no one behind.

     You can support the survival of FMST graduate students who are presently facing houselessness, deportation and loss of healthcare by donating to our gofundme fundraiser.

     - Claire Urbanski, FMST Graduate Student, UCSC


FMST Grad Students Win Prestigious Awards

We are very proud to share the news that two of our graduate students have recently received the following fellowships: 

Vivian Underhill

American Association of University Women Fellowship, 2020-2021 

Claire Urbanski

Andrew W.Mellon Fellow at Huntington Library, 2020-2021

Autry Museum Research Fellowship, 2020-2021

P.E.O. Scholar Award, 2020-2021

UCHRI Dissertation Support Award, 2020-2021


S  A  V  E    T  H  E    D  A  T  E   ! 

FMST/CRES Senior Celebration – June 12

We are looking into the possibility of hosting a virtual Year-End Senior Celebration on Friday, June 12 in honor of our 2019-2020 graduates in Feminist Studies and Critical Race & Ethnic Studies. Please mark your calendar as we consider the options, and keep an eye out for more information in your email inbox ... 

FMST Summer Session Classes – Enrollment Opens May 1 

Summer Session is right around the corner. Enrollment opens May 1 in your portal. Until then, you can browse classes in Class Search and add them to your cart.   

To be conducted via the remote learning protocols we’re using this Spring, Summer classes are small and hands-on. They’re a great way to get a required course under your belt or add an elective. Most courses are five weeks, with a few 8- and 10-week classes. 

A few more reasons to sign up for summer:

  • All students (in- and out-of-state) pay the same summer tuition rate of $279 per credit.
  • Ambitious Summer Award: Complete 15+ credits over the summer (total, not by session) to receive $680 off your tuition.
  • Financial aid is available for eligible students through loans, Summer Pell Grants, and the University Grant. 

Feminist Studies is offering two summer session classes:

Session 1 (June 24 - July 26)
FMST 188 | FMST Topics: Transgender History in Popular Media
Instructor: Dana Ahern – T/Th 9:00am-12:30pm PT
Session 2 (July 27 - August 28)
FMST 1 | Feminist Studies: An Introduction 
Instructor: Marcia Ochoa – M/W 1:00-4:30pm PT

Check the FMST Tentative Course list to find all the approved courses for the major, including electives from other departments. To enroll in a course outside FMST you must search for it under that department. For example, to enroll in LALS 172 for a FMST elective, it won’t appear under FMST in the class search, you must search under LALS. 

For more info, reach out to FMST Undergrad Advisor Anne Eickelberg (aeickelb@ucsc.edu), or contact the Summer Session office: 831-459-5373 / summer@ucsc.edu.

FMST Undergrads Win Sabrina Greenfield Memorial Award  

Congratulations to Samantha Cabrera (our FMST Peer Advisor!) and AmandaCeballos, selected by Feminist Studies faculty for the 2020 Sabrina Greenfield Award. The award is based on academic merit and financial need and is open to John R. Lewis College undergrads at the sophomore, junior, or senior level majoring in Feminist Studies.  

Sabrina Greenfield was a resident sophomore in College Ten majoring in Feminist Studies when she died tragically in 2006 at the age of 19. At an early age, Sabrina displayed a commitment to the fair treatment of all and a keen interest in and sensitivity to diverse cultures and gender issues. Her major in FMST reflected her beliefs and passion for social justice.In honor of her memory, family, friends, and colleagues established the Sabrina Greenfield Memorial Award.

Congrats to Winter 2020 FMST Graduates

Congratulations to our Winter 2020 FMST graduates, including those who received *Department Honors!

Taylor Bartosh* | Norma Leon



Deadline: April 30 – Lanzate Take Off! Higher Education Travel Award Program

Sponsored by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and Southwest Airlines, this program awards roundtrip e-pass(es) for currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students who travel away from home to pursue a higher education. Recipients meeting eligibility requirements may be awarded 1-4 roundtrip e-pass(es) for use when traveling to/from the university any Southwest Airlines destination in the continental US. Learn more and access the application here. 

Deadline: June 1 – California Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation Scholarship

The CLLCF wasestablished to promote and support Latino culture and heritage in California and educate the public about Latino culture, heritage and issues of importance to Latinos in California. This scholarship is open to undergraduate and graduate students who are California residents. More info and application at www.cllcf.org

Deadline: July 31 – Dream Act Scholarship

This scholarship is open to any student enrolled in a community college, undergraduate college or university, or graduate program in the United States. It is funded by immigration lawyer Natalia Segermeister, who immigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic and became a US citizen in 2010. Learn more and how to apply here.

Call for Papers

Deadline: April 24 – Rocky Mountain Interdisciplinary History Conference (RMIHC)

Call for papers is open for this conference, taking place October 2-4, 2020 at the University of Colorado Boulder. The conference is geared toward graduate students from a variety of disciplines whose work takes a historical approach. Info and apply online here.

Deadline: May 31 – University of Southern California graduate conference for Cinema and Media Studies—First Forum 2020: Passing?

Call for papers is open for this conference, taking place October 23-24, 2020 at USC. The conference will consider the disciplinary and cultural inheritances, of passing and otherwise, that have been passed on to us, and project the futures that passing opens up. More info here. 

Grants and Fellowships

Deadline: April 22

NEH-Mellon Fellowships for Digital Publication

Deadline: April 29

National Humanities Center 2020 Graduate Student Summer Program - "Passionate Teaching in the Research Environment: How to Create Meaningful Online Learning Experiences"

Deadline: May 1 

Lionel Cantu Memorial Award

Deadline: May 6

William T. Grant Foundation Research Grants on Inequality 

William T. Grant Foundation Research Grants on Improving the Use of Research Evidence

Deadline: May 15

National Endowment for the Humanities - Research and Development 

National Endowment for the Humanities - Preservation and Access Education and Training 

National Endowment for the Humanities - Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants 

Coordinating Council for Women in History - Catherine Prelinger Award

Deadline: May 18

Center for Archival Research andTraining (CART) Fellowship   

Rolling Deadlines:

Fulbright Specialist Program (Faculty) 

Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund(Institutional Grant for Visiting Scholar) 

UC MEXUS Resident Scholars Program (Grads, Post-Doc, Faculty) 

Fritz Thyssen Foundation (Travel, Printing, and Conference Subsidies) 

Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund 

The Betty J. Meggers Travel Grant 

Library of Congress Kluge Fellowship in Digital Studies

Library of Congress Hispanic Division Huntington Fellowship Program