By Sarah Jackson
California State University campuses are protesting a revision to Executive Order 1100 which will dissolve ethnic studies courses unless they can be folded into traditional disciplines.
The revision will impact graduation requirements and other interdisciplinary studies, such as gender studies. It is set to go into effective in the fall of 2018.
C.S.U. Chancellor Timothy P. White stated in a memorandum sent to C.S.U. presidents on August 23 that the revision serves to “(1) clarify requirements, (2) ensure equitable opportunity for student success, and (3) streamline graduation requirements.”
The Academic Senate chairs at 22 of the 23 C.S.U. campuses have spoken out against the revision, claiming few faculty were brought into the decision process.
Gina Masequesmay, chair of the Asian American Studies program at California State University, Northridge, has authored a petition to resist the curriculum changes alongside the chairs and coordinators of the Africana Studies, American Indian Studies, Asian American Studies, Central American Studies, Chicano/a Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies departments on her campus.
“We know that our [ethnic studies] courses help students, especially students that have been determined to be historically underserved,” Masequesmay said. “Ethnic studies courses help them to stay in school and graduate.”
Students must take sufficient credits from each section of general education requirements to graduate. On the CSUN campus, Section F centers on comparative culture studies, including various ethnic studies, in particular.
Masequesmay estimates that of the university’s nearly 40,000 students, fewer than 100 are potentially harmed by Section F.
“Make accommodations for them, but to make everyone else change is problematic.”
Masequesmay adds that the Faculty Senate at the CSUN campus has already voted not to comply with the changes.
“The interest [behind the proposed changes] is in students’ graduation; it should not just be in how fast they graduate, but also the quality of education,” she said.
A similar petition entitled “Save the Breadth & Diversity of California State University Education” was created by California State University, Fullerton, philosophy professor Brady Heiner.
The Academic Senate of the California State University proposed that implementation of the changes be postponed until at least the fall of 2019, or until sufficient data is found to support the claim that the changes will expedite graduation and otherwise benefit students.
“The insistence by the Chancellor’s Office that the CSU needed to move forward at such a pace suggests that the administration is more attuned to the pressures of outside forces than to the needs of its students and continuing faculty efforts to meet those needs,” the ASCSU said in a statement.
Moving forward, the coalition of departments opposed at CSUN will forward their petition to White and undertake a phone and email campaign urging him and the Board of Trustees to rescind the revision.
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