The faculty of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) College of Letters and Sciences Friday voted a close 332 to 303, with 24 blank ballots, in a move toward forcing students to take a diversity course as part of their undergraduate requirements.
Forty-six percent of those faculty members eligible to take part in the election cast a ballot, according to a UCLA statement released Friday.
In order to become official, two more groups must vote to approve the requirement, the Academic Senate’s Undergraduate Council and Academic Senate’s Legislative Assembly. Those votes are scheduled to take place within the next few weeks.
“The courses are expected to be offered by many academic departments, ranging from sociology to statistics, and students will be required to choose one for an academic quarter,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Times also noted concerns from opponents of the “ethnic, cultural, religious or gender diversity” courses: “Questions were raised about whether these classes improve ethnic relations and whether they typically skew left politically.”
Approval of the requirement would mean incoming freshmen in fall, 2015 and transfer students starting in 2017 would be held to the new standard.
The University said Friday, regarding the proposal, “It would bring the UCLA College into alignment with seven other UC campuses and the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, which have already adopted similar requirements.”
“A diversity-related course requirement for UCLA College undergraduates is an important component of our commitment to expose students to beliefs and backgrounds other than their own,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, a strong supporter of the new requirement.
“Naturally, I’m pleased with the results of the vote by College faculty, and I look forward to the next step in the Academic Senate’s approval process” said Chancellor Block.
UCLA’s paper the Daily Bruin reported in the days leading up to the vote, “In previous votes, some faculty members have said they think the requirement could burden students by forcing another mandatory class on them. But proponents of the measure have amended the policy, coming back this year with hope that the new requirement structure will work.”
“While UCLA’s diversity proposal has drawn criticism from professors, faculty on other UC campuses supported and drove the charge to implement a diversity requirement,” the paper noted.
The Bruin also brought up UC San Diego’s adoption of a “diversity, equity and inclusion requirement” in 2010. It was noted that “overwhelming support” developed in the same year as a “string of racially charged incidents, including a ‘Compton Cookout’ party at a campus-affiliated fraternity” sprung up. The Bruin reported UC San Diego Academic Senate chair Frank Powell as commenting on strange activity at the fraternity event, such as attendees dressed as gang members. Powell was quoted as saying of the proposal, “Faculty knew it had to work.”
UC Riverside’s student government submitted a proposal last spring for a “new option for diversity requirement that would address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues,” the Bruin reported, according to words from the school’s Academic Senate chair Jose Wudka. The school’s first diversity requirement was reportedly approved in 1989.
“The goal of these classes should not (be) to settle debates (of diversity) but to debate,” the Bruin quoted Victoria Robinson, UC Berkley’s director of the American Cultures Center, as saying.
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