UCLA is, for a fourth time, revisiting the idea of requiring a diversity class–racial, cultural, gender or religious diversity–as part of its core curriculum required for graduation, following three failed attempts and mounting criticism from both students and faculty members, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Questions such as whether students are already burdened with requirements, whether the university could afford extra classes, or if the classes will actually do anything to improve ethnic relations were among the issues that have been discussed in the past. Another question was whether the curriculum would skew left politically–a topic that has been of great interest in the University of California school system.
Many faculty will wonder “whether it’s appropriate to change the curriculum in the service of non-academic (i.e. political) goals,” according to UCLA anthropology Professor Joseph Manson, who wrote an opposition statement in 2012, according to the Times.
The UCLA College Republicans, a student group, said in a statement that they value diversity but consider the new proposal “a guise by university leadership to push an otherwise unwanted and offensive political strategy.” They expressed their belief in establishing “more effective ways–such as expanding free speech zones on campus–to promote tolerance and understanding among students.”
However, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block is adamant about the need to introduce the diversity curriculum.
UCLA, while being an ethnically diverse campus, reportedly cites the small number of African American undergraduates as a continuous issue, writes the Times. According to last fall’s statistics, among the nearly 25,300 U.S undergraduates there, about 39% are Asian American or Pacific Islander, 31% are white, 20% are Latino and 4% are black.
Discussion surrounding the proposed diversity class is focused at UCLA’s College of Letters and Science, which enrolls about 85% of undergraduates. The Arts and Architecture school began such a requirement six years ago, while other divisions such as engineering have not, according to the Times.