EJS Supports Implementation of AB 1460 as Stand-alone Graduation Requirement

The Equal Justice Society yesterday transmitted a letter (see below) to the California State University Board of Trustees indicating our strong support for the implementation of AB 1460 as a stand-alone graduation requirement that can be fulfilled by taking an upper or lower division ethnic studies class taught by ethnic studies faculty in any of the CSU’s ethnic studies departments, programs or classes. We believe that a free-standing graduation requirement best supports the spirit and the letter of the law. We oppose the Chancellor’s proposal to create a new GE Area F and limit the ethnic studies requirement to the lower division.


November 16, 2020

CSU Board of Trustees
c/o Trustee Secretariat
401 Golden Shore Long Beach, CA 90802

Re: Implementation of AB 1460

Via email

Dear Governor and Board President Newsom, Chairperson Kimbell and Trustees:

The Equal Justice Society (“EJS”) is a national civil rights organization dedicated to race equity, dismantling structural racism and promoting equal opportunity in education and in all institutions. As AB 1460 states, and we agree, “students of color and white students benefit academically as well as socially from taking ethnic studies courses[,]” and “[e]thnic studies courses play an important role in building an inclusive multicultural democracy.” We write to express our strong support for implementation of AB 1460 as a stand-alone graduation requirement that can be fulfilled by taking an upper or lower division ethnic studies class taught by ethnic studies faculty in any of the CSU’s ethnic studies departments, programs or classes.

We believe that this form of implementation is important because it respects the autonomy and culture of each campus while not adding GE requirements, units or complications. As a free-standing requirement that is not restricted to either lower or upper-division, students are free to fulfill this requirement as either a GE overlay or not, in the division of their choice and with the class of their choice. AB 1460 calls for an ethnic studies requirement and nothing more. We believe that a free-standing graduation requirement best supports the spirit and the letter of the law.

We oppose the Chancellor’s proposal to create a new GE Area F and limit the ethnic studies requirement to the lower division, because this plan is unnecessary, problematic, and counterproductive on several levels. Structurally, it is not needed as a GE requirement, only as a graduation requirement for which AB 1460 already provides. This proposal problematizes and complicates the simpler, more effective implementation as a free-standing graduation requirement.

We know from ethnic studies faculty who have reached out to us across the CSU that they stand ready to develop new courses, integrate with existing GE categories, expand our departments, programs and course offerings, hire cutting edge Ethnic Studies scholars and advance CSU’s leadership role in Ethnic Studies.

Sincerely,
Mona Tawatao, Legal Director
Christina Alvernaz, Judge Motley Civil Rights Fellow
Equal Justice Society