Cal State L.A. Students Push for Ethnic Studies Requirement

Another showdown is brewing over ethnic studies.

By Jamilah King Feb 12, 2014

Another showdown is brewing over ethnic studies, this time at California State University, Los Angeles, where students are demanding that the administration add an ethnic studies requirement to the school’s general education curriculum.

On Tuesday, 75 students showed up to an Academic Senate meeting to make their demands public, arguing that the courses are an important part of developing critical thinking skills in an increasingly multicultural society.

"College students who take an ethnic studies class can go out and uplift their community," Jelani Hendrix, a 23-year-old Pan-African studies major, told the Los Angeles Times. "They can show that all of us are more alike than different."

But ethnic studies programs throughout the California State University system, and the country, face tremendous hurdles as universities slash budgets and the programs suffer from dwindling enrollment. Cal State Long Beach recently moved to reduce the status of its Africana Studies program and a group of faculty from across the 23-campus Cal State system have advocated for a moratorium on proposed changes.

"General education requirements should be open to all departments and programs," said Gretchen Peterson, chairwoman of the Cal State LA sociology department told the Times. "Ethnic studies should be integrated throughout the curriculum."

The 55-member academic senate, which includes students and college deans, rejected a similar ethnic studies requirement last month. It’s expected to take up the issue again next week.

In the video below, students and faculty speak out at a press conference in Los Angeles.