CSU Students Will Be Required to Take Ethnic Studies Course to Graduate

August 20, 2020 Updated: August 20, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Aug. 17 requiring all students in the California State University (CSU) system to complete an ethnic studies course in order to earn their undergraduate degrees.

With the passage of Assembly Bill 1460 (AB 1460) into law, all CSU campuses statewide will be required to offer courses on race and ethnicity beginning in the 2021–2022 academic year. By 2024–2025, students will be required to take a three-credit ethnic studies course in order to graduate.

Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), who authored the bill, called the signing “great news.”

“Today #AB1460 was signed into law by @CAgovernor! This bill reflects 50 years of student, faculty, and community advocacy for curriculum reflective of and responsive to our diverse state,” Weber said in an Aug. 17 tweet.

Under the new stipulations, all CSU students will be required to take a course concerning one of four historically defined core groups: African Americans, Latino and Latina Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans.

Dr. Williamson Evers, senior fellow at the Independent Institute, a nonpartisan public-policy research organization, said the new curriculum is a detriment to the educational system.

The classes “don’t represent reality,” Evers told The Epoch Times. “The ethnic studies classes are a litany of grievance and victimization. We should not be happy with these indoctrination-type classes.”

Evers said by excluding other ethnic cultures—such as Irish, Italian, Polish, and Armenian Americans—the CSU system is not taking a balanced approach to education.

By signing AB 1460, the governor overruled a July 22 CSU Board of Trustees vote that would have broadened the scope of the requirement, allowing students to take either an ethnic studies or social justice course to qualify for their undergraduate degrees.

Critics of the CSU Board vote felt that expanding the mandate to include social justice classes—which would have offered students the option to learn about other marginalized groups including the disabled, the LGBTQ community, and the Jewish community—would undermine the intent of the original requirement.

The board voted 13 to 5 on July 22 to implement the expanded requirement across all campuses—but with the signing of AB 1460 into law, the CSU mandate no longer applies.

The new law marks the first modification to the state university’s general education requirements in 40 years, and makes California the first state to require ethnic studies as part of its four-year public university’s core curriculum graduation requirements.

“Governor Newsom, by signing AB 1460, has demonstrated his understanding of the power of a true Ethnic Studies graduation requirement to change people’s lives and to change the racial trajectory this state and country are on,” said California Faculty Association President Charles Toombs in an Aug. 18 tweet.

The CSU system is home to 23 campuses statewide and provides education to approximately 482,000 students each year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CSU students this fall will begin taking all classes virtually, beginning in late August.

The CSU Chancellor’s Office in July estimated that AB 1460 will cost approximately $16 million to implement annually.