K. Lloyd Billingsley - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research
Billingsley is Editorial Director for the Pacific
Research Institute and has been widely published on topics
including on popular culture, defense policy, education reform,
and many other current policy issues. [go to Billingsley index]
Goodbye to "terrorist tech"...
Lloyd Billingsley] 2/11/05
Californians have never heard of Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl University, which
last month lost its accreditation. Policymakers, taxpayers,
parents, and students
may draw some lessons from the story. It began in 1970, when the U.S. Army
announced plans to close a communications facility in Yolo
County, west of Davis and not
far from Sacramento.
UC Davis’s Native American and Chicano studies programs asked for the
property, but UC Davis also wanted the land for a primate research facility.
When the government
sided with the primate plan, Indian and Chicano activists occupied the property.
After five months of occupation, the university withdrew its claim and the
government duly caved.
In 1971, Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl University, named for a prominent Iroquois
and an Aztec prophet, opened its doors. Its mission was to united indigenous
people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. Local law enforcement and
the FBI called the place “terrorist tech.” While that threat never
materialized, neither did much education.
Courses were highly politicized, such as Environmental Issues 301, about uranium
mining on reservations, and Social Science 242, an Indian interpretation of
early U.S. history. The reading list was a politically correct litany of militants.
There were plenty of those in the 1970s, including Dennis Banks of AIM, the
Indian Movement. He fled South Dakota after a gun battle in a courthouse and
California governor Jerry Brown granted him asylum. Though not known as a scholar
or administrator, Dennis Banks duly became chancellor of Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl
University in 1975.
During the early 1980s, federal auditors cited DQU for various violations,
failing to enroll enough students and leasing land to farmers. The audit recommended
that the land be returned to the government. Management and financial problems
continued to plague DQU, subject to a U.S. Department of Education investigation
about mishandled financial aid. The Bureau of Indian Affairs also withdrew
in aid because of declining Indian enrollment.
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, an arm of the
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), has been pushing the school
and train board members – they have six but are supposed to have 16 – hire
qualified faculty, and provide courses that lead to an associate degree. According
to press reports, DQU president Peter Gabriel has only a bachelor’s degree
from UC Davis, has never attended graduate school, and has spent most of his
adult life as a jewelry maker.
Last month WASC terminated DQU’s accreditation. None of the school’s
classes now counts for credit. But on “ceremonial grounds,” students
can participate in powwows or congregate in a canvas sweat lodge to pray, apparently
without violation of the First Amendment or complaint from the ACLU. Some diehard
students plan to carry on but others will transfer to more conventional colleges,
a move surely in their best interests. That probably spells the end for DQU,
despite calls by newspapers for Indian casinos to fund the place.
In education, incompetence still shows remarkable staying power, partly because
politically correct administrators and journalists hesitate to criticize accredited
victim groups. Politicized education, a ‘60s legacy that is still widespread,
promises a lot more than it can deliver. The DQU story should tell governments
that if they cave in to militants, the result will not necessarily be beneficial
for the disadvantaged those militants claim to represent. CRO
2005 Pacific Research Institute