UChicago English department: Grad applicants accepted only for work 'in and with Black studies'

Hyde Park campus, University of Chicago map sign. (Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The University of Chicago’s English Department has announced that for the 2020-2021 graduate admissions cycle, it will only accept applicants who are interested in working in and with Black studies.

A faculty statement on the department’s website from July declares its commitment “to the struggle of Black and Indigenous people, and all racialized and dispossessed people, against inequality and brutality.”

“For the 2020-2021 graduate admissions cycle, the University of Chicago English Department is accepting only applicants interested in working in and with Black studies,” the statement said. “We understand Black studies to be a capacious intellectual project that spans a variety of methodological approaches, fields, geographical areas, languages and time periods.”

The department said English has a “long history of providing aesthetic rationalizations for colonization, exploitation, extraction and anti-Blackness.”

“In light of this historical reality, we believe that undoing persistent, recalcitrant anti-Blackness in our discipline and in our institutions must be the collective responsibility of all faculty, here and elsewhere,” the statement said.

The statement, written in July, came at the peak of summer unrest over the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and against racial injustice in general.

Gerald McSwiggan, a spokesman for the university, told Fox News that the school has had to accept a limited number of graduate students and offer limit employment opportunities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


"The English department faculty saw a need for additional scholarship in Black studies, and decided to focus doctoral admissions this year on prospective PhD students with an interest in working in and with Black Studies," McSwiggan said. "As with other departments in the University, the department's faculty will decide which areas of scholarship they wish to focus on for PhD admissions in future years."

The announcement comes amid a wider push by universities to incorporate race in curriculum, hiring practices and general fields of study. Early last week, for instance, dozens of Cornell University faculty, staff, students and alumni signed onto a letter attacking "colorblind" practices, insisting that the university institute racial quotas and recruit "clusters" of non-White individuals.

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