City Professor Out to BEAT Apathy

Mark Rivera

There used to be a time when the words education and activism were synonymous. When a student rally or protest were as common an event as anything else you’d find on campus.

But today, even as we find World War 3 looming and an economy on-the-rocks, our generation seems to lack that passion that fueled those many student protests, some forty odd years ago.

That passion, however, has not been lost in the voice and actions of Larissa Dorman, Political Science professor and faculty advisor for BEAT (Bringing Education and Activism Together).

Professor Dorman and her students started BEAT to raise awareness of issues that are important to the students on campus. They have started an emergency lunch program to help students who are homeless, hosted teach-ins and film showings, started a mentorship group to help keep students motivated for school, and are at the forefront of the budget-cut protests. They are even making a documentary on how the cuts have affected City College students.

“It is important that we create communities and networks to participate in politics within their own lives to make change,” says Dorman. “The students at this campus are already born activists; most of them come from low-income families, most of them are minorities, most of them have dealt with quite a lot of things in their lives.”

Dorman herself finds that growing up with a single mom who had 4 children to raise, helped her on the activist path that she has been on since an undergrad and graduate student at SDSU, where she also taught for 2 years. “I was definitely fortunate enough to find professors who were concerned about these issues and who mentored their students into creating groups that were important.”

City students also feel the same good fortune in finding an active mentor in Professor Dorman. Jose Rodriguez, a participating member of BEAT, says “I foremost appreciate how much I’m learning from just watching and paying attention to what she does and how she gets people active.she’s one of the few people that ‘talk the talk and walk the walk’.”

It’s this kind of impression that Professor Dorman leaves on her students and colleagues alike. Jim Miller, professor of English, here at City College, recognizes Dorman as “one of the best young faculty members at City College.” And The San Diego News Network has even named Larissa Dorman as one of the 35 under 35 leading community leaders in San Diego.

Her work as Poltical Action Officer of AFT, the American Federation of Teachers, also helps activist groups at City and Cuyamaca College to function and raise awareness on the many events that are active on both campuses.

It is in these grassroots organizations that Dorman feels does make change possible. Speaking of her students Dorman explains that, “.it’s really important for them to feel a sense of empowerment because so much of the system is working on atomizing people, keeping them apart, so they can’t create coalitions. We need to create real connections, on the ground, and find ways in which we have things in common so that we can make real change that affects people.”

There is no doubt that Professor Dorman is doing her part to help students feel connected to one another and to the surrounding community. Whether it is in the work she puts into BEAT, Political Action Officer for the AFT, or as a teacher on campus; the passion found within all of these groups does create a space for students to feel comfortable, find a voice, and rally with one another, in order to make real change occur.