A program for incoming Chicano students


A program for incoming Chicano students


This is a letter sent to Dean John Robinson of the college of Arts & Sciences from Ned Hedges, the director of freshman English at UNL. In this letter Hedges suggest in detail the program for Chicano education that the English department is willing to support. Hedges, along with Ralph Grajeda,Olga Tappe and three graduate students, proposes sections of English literature that not only would use Chicano writings, but would also reserve a class to only have Chicano students. The plan outlined also states that there will be further developing classes for Chicanos in the history, art and sociology departments (click on thumbnail to enlarge image).


RG05 Archives and Special Collections UNL Libraries


1971 May, 27

Original Format





Dean John Robinson
Oldfather 1223

Ralph Grajedo, Olga Tappe, three undergraduate Chicano students, and I met this morning to discuss arrangements the Department of English could make this fall to provide a program for incoming Chicano students. We came to the following conclusions. (When I speak here of “the Department of English” making commitments, I should make it clear that I have made the commitments; and, although the freshman English committee and the department faculty in general have not approved these proposals, or even seen them as yet, I anticipate departmental support.)
1. For the first semester 1971-72, the Department of English will designate two sections of English 1&2 to be open only to Chicano students. These classes will undoubtedly depart drastically in content from “regular” sections of English 1&2, emphasizing various aspects of Chicano culture, particularly Chicano literature; but ultimate responsibility for determining the content and nature of the course will rest with the instructor and the students. Upon successful completion of the course, the students will receive six hours credit in freshman English for English 1&2.
2. The Department of English will reserve up to ten class spaces in each of two additional sections of English 1&2 and one section of English 001 for Chicano students. These classes will be “regular” rather more emphasis on Chicano literature than most freshman classes would. We are reserving these class spaces for Chicano students who would rather be in”regular” freshman English classes than in classes limited only to Chicano students, but who do not wish to be in classes with no other Chicano students.
3. The incoming students will be asked to choose among three alternatives when they register for the first semester. They may choose to be in classes as indicated in (1) or (2) above, or they may choose to enter freshman classes generally. The advisers in the Special Services office will attempt to explain to the students the options open to them so that the students may make their own decisions. We will inform Don Payne, registration adviser in the admissions office, of this program so that he may explain the options available to any Chicano students who may for one reason or another bypass the Special Services office at the time of registration.
4. The sections of English 1&2 and English 001 to be especially designated as in (1) and (2) above will be selected following determination of other aspects of the program to be developed for Chicano students (in history, sociology, art, or whatever is being done) next year so schedule conflicts will not occur. In order to facilitate registration, I would urge that these determinations be made as quickly as possible.
5. Any special content in any of these courses, or any special training of teachers involved, will be arranged through cooperation of the teachers involved, Ralph Grajeda, Olga Tappe, or any persons in the Special Services office in her present position, and the Director of Freshman English. I anticipate at this time that Ralph Grajeda will not be teaching in the department next year, but his relationship with the department will be quite close and his position will enable him to work closely with this program in an advisory capacity.
6. Teachers for all classes involved will be assigned by the Director of Freshman English and the chairman of the department after consultation with Ralph Grajeda and the Special Services office. No teacher will be assigned to teach these lasses until the program has been fully explained to him and he has agreed to conduct the classes in accordance with these proposals.
7. We agreed (and the students meeting with us were particularly emphatic on this point) that it is of the utmost importance that the person teaching the two sections of English 1&2 limited to Chicano students be himself Chicano if at all possible. We intend to work through a newly established departmental committee concerned with minority students and minority literatures to “pressure” the chairman and graduate committee of the Department of English, the Graduate college, and all parts of the administrative budgetary schemata to actively recruit and hire a qualified Chicano teacher for thisfall semester, either at a professorial rank or (more probably, given the date, and perhaps more desirably anyway) a graduate student who will be pursuing a Ph.D. in English. Perhaps “pressure” is the wrong term, since we actually anticipate no resistance to this proposal. Paul Olson and Ralph Grajeda of the departmental committee mentioned above have already spoken with Dudley this afternoon about that request.
8. It was also our judgment that the Department of English should concern itself this summer with the development of a program for these students which might follow freshman English, and have that program ready for use during the second semester 1971-72.

I do hope this is all complete and clear enough.

I think I should make another comment or two here about other minority programs for your information. We have for the past two years designated sections of freshman English as “minority” sections which have operated similar to the sections described in paragraph (2) above, with the exception that the emphasis has been on black literature. In addition, the freshman English committee has “directed” that some emphasis be placed on black literature in every section of freshman English and every section of English 021 and English 022, and the committees of teachers teaching English 155 and English 162 have recommended the same. The Department of English has also participated in the teaching of English 198 (now English 190). During the second semester this year, we had one section of freshman English specifically designed for American Indian students and we will have one or more sections so designed and so designated next fall. Ray Shepard will be teaching two classes in black literature during the first session this summer term, and Paul Olson will be teaching a course in American Indian literature this fall. I do not recite these things to tell you how really great the Department of English is in its “treatment of minorities” (we still have no significant number of teachers or graduate students from minority groups, although our various departmental committees really are beginning to get off the mark in that area), but to indicate to you and others who may read this report that what we recommend for Chicano students here is not particularly unusual or unprecedented in this department. We really are not bending anything overmuch.

None of us are very pleased, on the other hand, with the temporary or patchwork appearance of our proposals. I am not terribly concerned about that matter, however, since I anticipate eventual approval of a new curriculum in English, already approved by the departmental faculty in principle—a curriculum which should allow us to develop programs with sufficient variety at all levels to meet the needs and desires of all our students.

Ned S. Hedges
Director of Freshman English




“A program for incoming Chicano students,” Nebraska U, accessed November 25, 2017, http://unlhistory.unl.edu/items/show/376.