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Organization of Graduate Students in Comparative Literature (OGSCL)

The Organization of Graduate Students in Comparative Literature (OGSCL) was founded in 1997 by a group of Comparative Literature graduate students at UMass Amherst as "a centralized form of representation on university and departmental committees, a clearinghouse of valuable career oriented information, and a time and place for congregating to discuss issues of interest within our specific areas of interest and the Comparative Literature discipline in general."

All current Comparative Literature graduate students at UMass Amherst are considered OGSCL members. The organization is loosely structured, and has no governing body, however, since 2005 OGSCL members have been selecting two coordinators responsible for scheduling meetings and coordinating activities. Every semester OGSCL holds on average two general meetings, in which members discuss current concerns, elect representatives to various committees and on-campus organizations, and plan upcoming events. In 2016 events included a workshop on a paperless class held by Shastri Akella and a workshop on online tools for research held by Krzysztof Rowinski and Una Tanovic.

For more information, please contact Nefeli Forni at nforni@umass.edu

 

OGSCL Statement of June 19, 2020 on Black Lives Matter:

While expressing solidarity is important, as a student body committed to anti-racism, we respectfully request that LLC leadership release a public statement outlining what specific actions the department is planning on taking as part of a rigorous and long-term commitment to racial justice and to combating anti-Blackness.

The absence of Black candidates in our graduate programs and the glaring absence of Black faculty speaks to the prevalence of systemic racism within our institution and within our programs. We need to address and rethink how the intellectual and artistic traditions we research, value, and engage in contribute to the perpetuation of racist structures within and outside of our institution. The absence of Black voices in our scholarly community is a reflection of the urgency to take action now.

Based on our university’s and our department’s stated commitment to shared governance we demand that LLC publicly commit to taking the following actions:

1. Advocate for the removal of police presence on campus and for the abolition of police departments in the Pioneer Valley. Ensure that there is a public safety resource on campus for students, faculty, and staff in crisis that is unarmed and does not engage in policing.

2. Develop recruitment strategies that target domestic and international Black candidates for PhD and Masters programs.

3. Advocate for new lines of funding to hire Black faculty and add a housing allowance to the standard startup package offered to new faculty. Black faculty are especially unlikely to have family wealth to float the enormous expense of moving and setting up home in a new town such as Amherst, in which high cost of living, lack of adequate and available housing, rental discrimination, and lack of jobs make this transition particularly challenging for Black students and faculty, as well as non-Black students and faculty of color. As a first step, we demand the department participates in advocating in the email campaign to help retain Dr. Shonekan, chair of the Afro-American Studies Department.

4. Work to establish a clearer and stronger connection between LLC and the Afro-American Studies Department and its faculty.

5. Establish funding for an ongoing lecture exchange series between LLC faculty and faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities as part of ongoing recruitment and networking efforts.

6. Advocate for waiving SAT, GRE, and all other standardized testing requirements which disproportionately disqualify Black domestic students, and advocate waiving the TOEFL which disproportionately creates barriers against international Black students. The fees and cost of preparation associated with these tests are prohibitive to many potential applicants, domestically and internationally.

7. Encourage faculty to include works by and about Black people in their research, curriculum, and courses, and ask faculty to be explicit in discussions with their students as to why they are including these works.

8. Require that all faculty participate in an ongoing anti-racist pedagogy reading and discussion group. We understand that Dr. Corine Tachtiris has offered to lead such a group and we wholly support this action.

9. Establish funding for a Black speaker series in our program and include graduate student representatives on the organization committee for such a series.

10. Establish funding for an anti-racist speaker series and include graduate student representatives on the organization committee for such a series.

11. Waive the admissions application fee which is prohibitively expensive for many Black students.

12. Commit to publicly condemning any future racist incidents on campus and in our broader Community.

We request that the LLC Chair respond to these demands in writing and organize a department-wide Zoom forum to discuss these demands and the department’s commitments to antiracism. Both the response and forum should occur before July 1, 2020.

In solidarity,
OGSCL (Organization of Graduate Students in Comparative Literature) SPUGSO (Spanish and Portuguese Graduate Student Organization) German and Scandinavian Studies Graduate Students

The Organization of Graduate Students in Comparative Literature (OGSCL) was founded in 1997 by a group of Comparative Literature graduate students at UMass Amherst as "a centralized form of representation on university and departmental committees, a clearinghouse of valuable career oriented information, and a time and place for congregating to discuss issues of interest within our specific areas of interest and the Comparative Literature discipline in general."

All current Comparative Literature graduate students at UMass Amherst are considered OGSCL members. The organization is loosely structured, and has no governing body, however, since 2005 OGSCL members have been selecting two coordinators responsible for scheduling meetings and coordinating activities. Every semester OGSCL holds on average two general meetings, in which members discuss current concerns, elect representatives to various committees and on-campus organizations, and plan upcoming events. In 2016 events included a workshop on a paperless class held by Shastri Akella and a workshop on online tools for research held by Krzysztof Rowinski and Una Tanovic.

For more information, please contact Nefeli Forni at nforni@umass.edu