The Academic Senate this month unanimously approved the opening of an Ethnic Studies Department at California State University, Bakersfield, the university announced.
Students there have been able to minor in Asian American Studies, Latin American Studies, Afro-American, and Mexican American Studies since the campus opened in 1970.
“This is the first time the campus has provided a designated institutional structure to support the academic study of these four historically racialized groups,” said Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Academic Programs Dr. Debra Jackson. “This new department will not only support faculty and student research in the field — it will also provide an anchor for CSUB to become an anti-racist institution.”
According to the Bakersfield Californian, the associated students wrote a letter of support for the new department prior to its establishment. Students expressed concerns the high demand for classes would necessitate hiring more than the two professors the university currently has teaching ethnic studies.
A new bill that took effect this year also added a sense of urgency. AB 1460 requires Cal State Universities to offer both an introductory ethnic studies course and a graduation requirement that students take an ethnic studies class.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Jorge Moraga, an assistant professor who specializes in Latinx/Chicanx studies said to the Californian.
“That gives me goosebumps; that makes my heart full,” said student Jonathan Vega.
Work on the Department, according to the University, actually began over the last several years. Chancellor imothy White formed a statewide CSU Task Force on the Advancement of Ethnic Studies in 2014.
“Ethnic studies really affects me, who I am as a Filipino woman,” said CSUB student Krystal Mae Raynes. “It hits home for me because it’s the history of me and my people,” she said. “I knew that I spoke for a lot of people that feel the same exact way that I do.”
AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our new Instagram account. Go to our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story, or making a contribution.