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UTSA Student Group Protests Cancellation of Black Studies Course

SAN ANTONIO — The University of Texas at San Antonio’s cancellation of an upcoming course within the African American Studies Program has prompted the resignation of a professor and drawn criticism from some students.

The university pulled “African American Political Thought” from the spring semester because of a lack of student interest in the black studies program, spokesman David Gabler said.

Eight students declared a minor in the program this year, up from four last year, according to the university, which has an enrollment of 28,500 students.

Margaret Richardson, chairwoman of Students Committed to Change, criticized the decision in a letter to the school’s administration. The group planned a news conference for Tuesday at the office of university President Ricardo Romo.

“It is a shame that even in these times a program such as the African American studies minor is allowed to wither on the vine,” Richardson said. “As a student, I am appalled at the obvious disregard for the students who want these classes. We do not ask for special treatment, but for respect for our classes and our support of the African American Studies Program.”

Richardson said any lack of interest in the program is the fault of administrators who have failed to promote it. “It is this lack of concern that has many students up in arms about the stability and future growth of (the program),” she said.

Professor Frederick Williams resigned over the dispute last week. He helped write the course outlines for the black studies program, which he said was started in 2001 in response to a student petition. He said the canceled class had 27 students last spring.

“You think the students are doing this because they’re not interested in the classes?” Williams said. “The only reason they decided to go public is because nobody is willing to listen to them.”

Gabler said the university will continue to offer the black studies program and that any canceled classes could be put back on the schedule in future semesters if demand increases.

He said the school recently formed a task force to review all its minor studies, including the African American Studies Program. The Inclusiveness Task Force is charged with forming recommendations for improving and popularizing the program, he said.

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