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KATHY MITCHELL Strategic Plan says is designed “to meet the acute demand for professionals to develop Texas’s embryonic biotechnology industry,” illustrates UT’s priorities in funding for curriculum expansion. The molecular biology building itself will cost $25 million, the same amount as, say, a new financial aid building. Financial aid has been a continuing problem at UT for at least a decade. During peak periods of demand, students must often relate their families’ financial status to aid counselors with other students present, since space constraints force counselors to share offices. Students wait in long lines every semester, and spend hours hoping to get through on the phone, trying to confirm their aid status. At the beginning of each semester, students typically attempt about 22,000 calls per day to the buildingonly about 700 of which get through. This summer UT will move the financial aid office into a temporary space. A UT representative said the school has no concrete plans right now to build new facilities. UT President Cunningham defends the molecular biology program as a “one-time expenditure,” but a financial aid building would also be a one-time expense. The total expense for a new molecular biology program is estimated at $70 million over the next seven years, and of this $51.4 million goes to purchase research capital. UT’s spending priorities are clear: Expensive research capital takes precedence over student demands or societal needs. Financial aid is a class issue, and in America especially Texas -class issues are race issues. The ethnic breakdown of students receiving financial aid demonstrates that point. AfricanAmerican students constitute 3.7 percent of the student population, but make up 6.6 percent of students on financial aid. Similarly, Latino students make up 10.3 percent of the UT-student population, but 15.4 percent of students receiving financial aid. Asian and Native American students combined, account for 7.5 percent of students receiving financial aid, while making up only 5.9 percent of the student body. The financial aid building clearly serves the needs of students of color disproportionately to their numbers at the university. But rather than spend $25 million to facilitate expedient financing for 24,000 students each semester, UT prefers to pay $70 million on a molecular biology program, which the administration intends to serve at most 100 students. According to The Strategic Plan, one objective of the new graduate degree program in marine science will be to “furnish a modest flow of students uniquely trained to address practical environmental and natural resource problems common in the coastal zone, with an emphasis on Texas bays, estuaries, and the adjacent continental shelf.” The Strategic Plan doesn’t mention that “envi-. ronmental … problems common in the coastal zone” often result from the very industries UT sees as its mission to subsidize. These arguments should not be construed as opposing all scientific or technical training at universities quite the opposite. To truly implement diversity, engineering and . science programs must be opened up through increased financial aid and other mechanisms to facilitate the entry by people of color into those fields. But investments in sciencethat benefit students must focus on human development, while most universities, certainly the University of Texas, focus their resources on developing capital. Capital-intensive R&D like that at Sematech the semiconductor manufacturing consortium for which UT spent more than $12 million is the real obstacle to bettering the college education in a time of shrinking state budgets. The only non-technical curriculum expansion cited by UT’s Strategic Plan illustrates similarly skewed priorities. UT will shape its new Slavic languages doctoral program to meet the needs of U.S. industries wanting to compete in newly opened Eastern European markets. According to The Strategic Plan, “recent studies indicate that the field is entering a period of sustained growth in terms of both employment possibilities and financial resources made available by governmental and private sources.” By contrast, the UT Oriental and African language department currently teaches not a single African language. This example embodies what multiculturalism advocates declare “institutional racism” while students demanding diversity are denied access to African cultural and language studies, UT trains students, it hopes, to exploit newly opening economies in Eastern Europe. Toward Free Speech The merits of implementing curriculum re forms and faculty and student diversity can be argued strictly in terms of free speech. The “common understanding” that Hans Mark relishes began to break down in America with the influx of students after the GI bill in 1945 and with the post-war capital-labor accord that allowed working-class families for the first time to send their kids to college. It di minished further throughout the 1950s and ’60s, and then disintegrated with the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and the mass entry of women into colleges and the workplace. Today disparate and competing interests complicate a once cozy ideology that valued capital accumulation and Cold-War militarism over more particularistic concerns. Meanwhile, corporate powers dominate uni versities’ curricula decisions more than ever before. The times are not just a changin’, they have changed. But campus reformers today battle, for the most part, the same canon Thorstein Veblen blasted in 1917. The new ideas and expressions of these segments of the population deserve their place in the academy simple respect for others demands no less. The attack on “political correctness” amounts to a backlash targetting the handful of spaces created in the academy over the last 20 years for women and minorities to pursue their own scholarship. To this end, rightist scholars and pundits have defined disagreement with these newcomers as “repression” of their own ideas. But, in the final analysis, losing an argument does not qualify as losing one’s freedom of speech. The more odious repression comes when disputants refuse to allow an argument to begin, by fighting to exclude large fields of scholarship from the academic curriculum. S.H. CTARC N INN “Best Lodging Location for Fishermen & Beachgoers” Group Discounts P.O. Box 8 Port Aransas, TX 78373 Send for Free Gulf & Bay Fishing Information THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5