In recognition of Dia de los Muertos – the day of the dead, a Latin holiday on which the dead are remembered – the life of the University of California will be celebrated today.
Today’s Day of the Dead celebration begins at 10 a.m. with traditional calavera (Spanish for skull) face-painting on the Memorial Union patio, followed by “the walking dead” procession around the quad at 11 a.m. and concluding with a “We refuse to die!” rally at noon.
Organized by the Chicana/Latina Research Center at UC Davis, today’s event protests the “death” of accessible university education and funding cuts for Latino/a research, according to the event’s press release. The supposed “death” of the university stems from UC President Mark Yudof’s recent interview with the New York Times in which he grimly compared his position to working in a cemetery.
“Being president of the University of California is like being manager of a cemetery,” Yudof said in the Times interview. “There are many people under you, but no one is listening. I listen to them.”
The Day of the Dead celebration is meant to highlight the efforts of those who dedicate themselves to ensuring that the University of California remains a public institution and that higher education is made accessible to all Californians.
Lorena Oropeza, director of the Chicana/Latina Research Center at UC Davis, organized today’s event in conjunction with UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, which are simultaneously holding Day of the Dead celebrations on their campuses.
Recent cuts to the C/LRC have virtually eliminated all funding. The C/LRC is currently surviving on a small amount of transition money from last year and will have to search for outside funding due to the cuts announced by the UC Office of the President (UCOP).
The C/LRC was founded in 1990 in accordance with 1987 California Senate Assembly Resolution 43, which called for the development of the UC Center for Latino Research.
As the only research center in the United States that exclusively promotes scholarship about Chicanas/Latinas, the C/LRC seeks to bridge the educational gap among Latinos.
“It’s a mystery to those who study education. Even when you hold for class, language and immigrant status there is still a gap,” Oropeza said about the educational gap among Latino/as. “This isn’t something that is just going to affect Latino families or students, but it will affect all of California. You need an educated populace.” Latino/as make up nearly 40 percent of the State population and 12.71 percent of the student population at UCD.
In previous years the C/LRC offered dissertation-completion fellowships to graduate students working on research related to Chicanas, Latinas or indigenous women in the United States. Once funded by the UCOP, the fellowship has been suspended due to the cut of the UCOP’s entire contribution.
“The day of the dead celebration comes with hope,” Oropeza said. “We mourn what has happened but we celebrate what has been accomplished, and dedicate ourselves to either reimagining the university or continuing with the good things that have been accomplished through it.”
Visit clrc.ucdavis.edu for more information.
GABRIELLE GROW can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.