Rutgers English Dept to Stand in ‘Solidarity With Black Lives Matter,’ Implement ‘Critical Grammar’

By John Jakubisin | July 30, 2020 | 2:38pm EDT
(Website screenshot)
(Website screenshot)

(CNS News) -- The Rutgers English Department will incorporate “critical grammar” in its practices and host a workshop on “How to Run an Anti-Racist Classroom,” among other initiatives, as outlined in a June 19 department email.

In an email entitled, “Department actions in solidarity with Black Lives Matter,” Chairwoman Rebecca Walkowitz said the English Department would implement “critical grammar” into their practices. 

(Website screenshot)
(Website screenshot)

“This approach challenges the familiar dogma that writing instruction should limit emphasis on grammar/sentence-level issues so as to not put students from multilingual, non-standard ‘academic’ English backgrounds at a disadvantage,” she explained.

“Instead, it encourages students to develop a critical awareness of the variety of choices available to them w/ regard to micro-level issues in order to empower them and equip them to push against biases based on ‘written’ accents,” she said.

The purpose of the initiatives were “to stand with and respond to the Black Lives Matter movement,” she added, “to create and promote an anti-racist environment in our workplace, our classes, our department, our university, and our communities.”

(Screenshot, FNC)
(Screenshot, FNC)

Other initiatives include a workshop on “How to Run an Anti-Racist Classroom," which is required for all undergraduate English professors, and “seeking out and supporting black-owned businesses” whenever catering is needed for events. 

The department's “Center for Cultural Analysis” has committed to “intentionally diversifying” its executive committee, and will also write the individuals and groups that they sponsor, encouraging them to “attend to the racial diversity of their invited guests” at events.

The department email also announced the creation of two Writing Center internships, entitled, “Tutoring Towards Diversity and Inclusion” and “Decolonizing the Writing Center.” 

(Screenshot, YouTube)
(Screenshot, YouTube)

Both internships will “critically engage the history of ‘English studies’ and how we can both continue teaching/tutoring English composition, even as we work to make the writing centers linguistically diverse and decolonized spaces,” the email stated. 

Rutgers departmental move is not the first of its kind. In 2017, the University of Washington’s writing center declared in a document, “Racism is pervasive. It is in the systems, structures, rules, languages, expectations, and guidelines that make up our classes, school, and society,” The Daily Caller reported. 

“Linguistic and writing research has shown clearly for many decades that there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English,” the document stated.

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