Friday, January 18, 2013

Is There Religious Discrimination at UC?

By Pamela Urfer

To some one of my generation and experience with universities (Berkeley and Santa Cruz) such a question is answered with a resounding YES! Of course there’s discrimination, and it persists today.
But, surprisingly, the UC system is asking that very question.

UCSC sent out an on-line survey last fall that included that very question, among questions regarding discrimination in other areas of student life, and we should soon have the results. The Office of the President was intrigued by the concept and decided we needed a system-wide survey to really get at the heart of the matter. That new survey will begin January 16, 2013. (Survey fatigue, anyone?) Still, it’s a good idea, and they believe that crunching the numbers will provide proof, one way or the other, if religious discrimination exists.

Of course, we don’t need the numbers. We have had plenty of personal experience along that line ourselves and have heard stories of others who have also suffered. But, in spite of the gradual replacement of the post-Enlightenment worldview, with its emphasis on the empirical method, by the post-modern one, stories still are not considered ‘hard evidence,’ nor allowed to set policy.

Yet, completing a survey is still a way, truncated though it may be, of ‘telling our story,’ and letting others have a peek at what we go though daily. And, of course, it is anonymous, so no one need feel that they are putting themselves in danger by being truthful.

But, obviously, we will only be able to speak to the administration, add our numbers to those being crunched, and tell our stories, if we fill out the survey form. This is an area where reticence is not a virtue, where non-involvement will have a negative effect, where laziness will incur a penalty. If we want people to know the facts, how will they know unless someone tells them? Otherwise, if the numbers come back indicating an overall contentment with what’s happening on campus and in our classes, we will never again be able to claim that things are not right at UCSC. We will lose our credibility.