No one would call the University of California at Irvine a conservative school. In fact, few would likely even deem it “moderate.” Still, it is regarded as a strong school academically, with a high ranking from U.S. News and World Report, and for the most part, the school is able to keep its politics from influencing the quality of education it offers. However, its reaction to Donald Trump’s election shows that this might be changing, allowing politics to influence the content of even basic writing courses.
Despite naming a UC Irvine economist one of his advisers during the campaign, Trump is largely unpopular with students and faculty. After the results came in, students at Irvine, like their compatriots at campuses across the country, responded emotionally. On the night of the election, some 300 started a Dump Trump protest march ending with an open mic and speakers. Another group sponsored a “group cry meet and greet” at the school’s Langson Library, asking people to invite their friends and to “Bring all your bernie shirts ;( (sic).” That event was later disrupted by unrelated reports of fire and moved outside.
While dissatisfaction with the results is not entirely surprising, what is more concerning is that instructors are discussing means of changing course content because of Trump’s win. On Wednesday, instructors from the university’s composition department met to discuss ways to shift course curricula to help prepare students for life under Trump.
In an email sent earlier this week and shared with InsideSources, a course administrator asked graduate teaching assistants for the writing courses to gather for a meeting “wherein we could discuss ways to use the various composition curricula to help prepare our students for life under an avowed white supremacist presidential administration.”
To help start discussion, the administrator proposed “presenting the following ‘Trump Syllabus’ at the meeting, and we can go from there.” (The Trump syllabus is a mock syllabus of books and readings assembled by historians N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain as an example of a course that would “address the critical subjects of racism, sexism, and xenophobia on which Trump has built his candidacy.“)