Second-year Adam Odsess-Rubin does not view the stereotype of a protest-hungry community studies (CMMU) student as an accurate depiction of his major.
“There’s this image that the tattooed, pierced, druggie hippie is the CMMU student,” said Odsess-Rubin, whose parents met in a CMMU class taught by lecturer Mike Rotkin in 1969. “The fact that the dean of social sciences cut the program and decided to bear the cuts on community studies because they didn’t see it as a priority to the school is a sign of privatization and conservatism … School shouldn’t be driven [by] profit, it should be driven about people, and that’s what CMMU is about.”
Around 30 CMMU majors will complete a concluding course in winter 2013, signifying the end of an era.
Even though the 42-year-old major suffered detrimental cuts in 2009, followed by its suspension in 2010, the youngest CMMU generation remains a close group, working with what has been left for them.
Second-year Samantha Harris said the department used to have five concentrations, and she’s disappointed that her preferred choice, gender and sexuality, is not one of the two that now remain.
“I wanted to take Politics of Obesity with Julie Guthman, but I can’t take it because of the year I am,” Harris said.
She is choosing to graduate in three years after completing CMMU rather than continue her studies for a fourth year.
“It doesn’t make sense to give money to my school when they don’t fund my program,” Harris said.
Third-year Luci Winsberg is one of the few third-years of this generation who will embark on a mandatory six-month field study in summer.
“There’s obviously something the school values more than the social sciences,” Winsberg said. “A small, unique major isn’t going to bring them money.”
Third-year Andrew Szeto switched from economics to community studies because he was tired of the profit-making focus in economics.
“We’re not just memorizing formulas [in CMMU],” Szeto said. “We’re challenged to think about issues around social justice and engage in issues so we can engage in the field study in the ‘real world’ we learn about.”
He said he appreciates the mandatory six-month field study. He wants to participate in Detroit’s rejuvenating movement to complete the requirement.
“We might not accomplish everything we want to in those six months, but we’ll come out of it with a broader perspective and understanding of society,” Szeto said.
Odsess-Rubin started a Facebook group for their generation — which older CMMU students comment on, too — offering advice for six-month field study. One student even suggested a potluck, which they followed up on.
“Older CMMU students continue to tell us how amazing it is,” Odsess-Rubin said. “[Our] group hasn’t been as actively protesting. I think there’s a sense of defeat and hope among older students, but mainly gratitude.”
Szeto assumes the activism to save CMMU is currently lacking because it was suspended more than a year and a half ago.
Though their fight is not as strong, their spirits are still there.
“Am I like a ghost?” Odsess-Rubin asked. “It’s like the major’s gone but I’m still here. We’re becoming extinct.”