TRITON Magazine Fall 2020 | Page 33

THE COLLEGE ’ S first years can be described in one word : survival . While Watson defended the nascent college from budget cuts , a cohort of students still thought it was too watered down from the vision of the Lumumba-Zapata Coalition . “ There were tensions ,” says Watson . “ And I think these tensions came about because we found ourselves in a situation in which the founding aspirations were in constant tension and frequent conflict with the priorities of the rest of the campus and administrative requirements and procedures .”
Its existence became even more fragile because of low enrollment rates , causing the college to relax their general education requirements . By 1974 , the initial eight required courses were reduced to three . While the Third College Writing Program remained a hallmark of the curriculum , students did not have to take a Third World Studies course , which the original coalition fought to include .
Other founding ideals fell by the wayside as well . The entering freshman class in 1976 was 60 percent White — well short of the original goal of 1 / 3 Black and 1 / 3 Mexican-American . In 1980 , the top three majors were biology , computer science , and engineering , further distancing Third from the social change it was intended to lead on campus .
Watson , however , reflects on the efforts to make its initial ambitions a reality :
STARTING POINT Armando Arias Jr . ’ 76 engages with Third College Provost Faustina Solis . Arias would go on to create many colleges and community programs in his career .
“ The contributions of those founding coalitions did make progress — maybe not in achieving the ultimate goals , but there was certainly progress .”
There were also lessons to be had , if only in making progress . As Arias remembers , “ Third helped me find the context in which to base my activism for the rest of my life .” Though he and his family had a long history of activism in San Diego , Arias credits his time at Third in steering him toward the intersection of education and community building . “ Faculty like Charles Thomas emphasized the reciprocity of giving back to the community — our version of service learning back then . So I was going back to the places I knew in San Diego , places where all my cousins were , where my family was . I came to see those places in a new light , with a responsibility that if I ’ m getting know-how from a university , I ’ ve got to go back and give . I kept that for the rest of my life .”
It ’ s fitting that Arias would go on to make his career in academia , particularly in creating colleges and community programs from scratch , all around the nation as well as back home . “ I ’ ve been gone 45 years , but I ’ ve had a project going on in San Diego every one of them . I helped create a college in my neighborhood , in National City , right across the street from where I was born . We ’ re convening people right now to start a new university , a Chicanx university in Seattle . If there was one thing I learned
Marshall College : NOW MORE THAN EVER
at Third , it ’ s never stop trying , never stop asking . Whether we got it or not , I learned to ask — ask and demand and demand and ask , always have a proposal in your pocket . Some people called it agitation . I just called it an ask .”
JUST AS THIRD COLLEGE ’ S shortcomings did not go unnoticed , both students and the administration began thinking of ways to fix them .
Following Faustina Solis , Cecil Lytle became provost in 1988 and effected several developments for the college , including one of the most ambitious projects at UC San Diego altogether . Lytle worked with colleagues Bed Mehan and others on establishing the Preuss School UC San Diego . Originally intended as a campus-wide partnership with a local public school , it evolved into the creation of a charter 6-12 school on campus . “ It was a very large test tube , with which we would figure out the pedagogy , the curriculum , and the kind of parent involvement that would maximize the talents of young students who come from disadvantaged communities ,” says Lytle . “ What ’ s more , we would have 25,000 examples of the outcomes we wanted to effect walking around right outside the building — college students would be front and center for these youngsters .” Originally composed of portable classrooms on the quad , the school now has a permanent home on east campus and is regularly recognized as a top school in the nation and a model in education .
Lytle would see the college through another monumental endeavor — its naming , despite two decades of students and alumni identifying strongly with their numeric name , Third . Coretta Scott King was reserving her late husband ’ s name for a college in the south , so other names were floated : Sequoia College , Freedom College , Discovery College , and Ida B . Wells College . In January 1993 , Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall passed away , inspiring Lytle to advocate for him as namesake . “ It seemed a fitting tribute to someone whose whole career was about the issues that founded Third College ,” says Lytle .