Thursday, March 25, 2010

This Is CSU

On Wednesday, March 24, I helped to coordinate an event sponsored by the Women and Gender Studies Committee, the Francophone Film Series, and the College of Arts and Sciences. We showed “MoolaadĂ©,” a film by Sembene Ousmane (Senegal, 2004), and we followed the film with a panel discussion consisting of three faculty members from CSU and one faculty member from Kennedy-King College. About 30 people showed up to watch the film and discuss it – faculty, students, and staff from CSU, as well as others.

This film is about the difficult subject of excision, also known as female genital mutilation or female genital cutting. As the discussion showed, however, the film is about much more than this subject. It’s about gender relations and power, the female body as a discursive site, the question of how practices are maintained and how they are changed, tradition versus modernity, globalization, the question of “African-ness” in post-colonial Africa, the roles of the individual and the community, and many other things. As the discussion showed, the film is particularly rich because it raises questions about these issues in complex ways, encouraging viewers to think and rethink their ideas.

I mention this activity not to pat myself on the back for the small part I played in this event, but to point out that many other events like this are going on all of the time on our campus. These are the sorts of events that should be widely advertised to counter the negative assumptions about CSU raised in much of the mass media. These events show the leadership and scholarly engagement of our own faculty and students. And, I would suggest that these events increase student retention not just for the students who attend them but also for those who hear about the exciting and provocative discussions generated at these events, and probably even for those students who simply see a flyer and know these events are happening.

This is CSU. An engaged community of scholars, faculty, and students committed to learning beyond the boundaries of the classroom.

This is CSU. An engaged community of scholars, faculty, and students thinking critically about the world around us, its history, and the means for creating change.

This is CSU. An engaged community of scholars, faculty, and students realizing the mission of the university to “produce graduates who are responsible, discerning, and informed global citizens with a commitment to lifelong-learning and service.”


  1. Exactly!! Thanks for your insight. Students receive a great education at CSU, in the classroom and at events such as these, in spite of legislative and administrative failures. The ambulance-chasing media needs to be aware. The general public needs to know and our students need to be affirmed. Thanks, again.

  2. A fantastic program, and a great comment.
    As for the "ambulance-chasing media", of course the reporters are going to chase ambulances - they're loud, they're flashy, and they usually are heading to where the action is. Especially if the reporter has no other way of knowing what's going on - no contacts, no heads ups, no nothing.
    Any PR person knows that, if you keep pumping out press releases and emailing reporters, the day will come when the stories will be told - whether because the tales are compelling or because it's a slow news day. If the media know of such events, they just might cover them. The same way that, if faculty and students know about events and they're not busy and they're on campus, they just might attend them.
    To my mind, the problem is this - CSU does not bother pumping out press releases about the good news because CSU doesn't want journalists on campus lest they uncover some bad news. And that needs to stop.