List of CSU Board of Trustees Members
CSU Board of Trustees
Larry L. Adamson
Jane W. Carney
Jean P. Firstenberg
Wenda Fong (Vice Chair)
Peter J. Taylor
Dear Board of Trustee Member ________,
On behalf of Ethnic Studies faculty, 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 the most elegant as 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. For students in high unit majors, they can overlay their already existing GE requirements with the freestanding Ethnic Studies requirement without adding units to their curriculum. This plan may require some initial support for small ethnic studies departments and programs to hire instructors, but in the long term provides a pathway to more enduring forms of advancement of Ethnic Studies. 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 the plan is unnecessary, problematic, and counterproductive on several levels. It is neither stipulated nor implied in AB 1460 and thus it is neither compelling nor advisable. Structurally, it is not needed as a GE requirement, only as a graduation requirement for which the law already provides. Moreover, it is proposed without any compelling rationale. And it problematizes and complicates a simpler more effective implementation as a free-standing graduation requirement. The limitation to lower division classes limits student flexibility in choice and denies the opportunity for a deeper and more extensive engagement with Ethnic Studies at a higher level.
The proposed new GE Area F is particularly problematic because it will limit or detract from the existing GE Area D, which will be detrimental to allied disciplines and colleagues and is, again, proposed without a compelling rationale. The proposed GE Area F creates an artificial problem and encumbers the requirement into one of the curriculum’s most complex policies, requiring an unnecessary workload on an already overburdened faculty. Furthermore, because of these complexities, it again unnecessarily opens the Ethnic Studies requirement to possible unknown, unanticipated, and unintended consequences.
Ethnic Studies faculty across the CSU stand united in our belief that the best way to implement the Ethnic Studies requirement is as a standalone graduation requirement, as specified in the language of AB 1460. We 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. We believe that the best way forward is to maintain close collaboration between the Chancellor’s Office and Ethnic Studies faculty not only as required by law, but also in rightful recognition and respect of the disciplinary expertise of Ethnic Studies faculty in disciplinary curriculum matters. We believe in the importance and necessity of shared governance, respect for varied conditions on campuses and flexibility in determination of implementation of the requirement. All of the campus senates that have responded to date have opposed the changes to GE and reaffirmed the position outlined above.
In conclusion, we reaffirm our support for a free-standing graduation requirement as supported by Ethnic Studies faculty and units and several campus senates across the university system, allowing campuses to maximize its positive impact, best deploy their limited financial and faculty labor resources, and coordinate this requirement with their other campus curricula, while respecting reasonable campus autonomy, authority and responsiveness to student need.