SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The California State University system is hoping to tackle systemic racism through education.
“We believe that it is time. We haven’t changed our general education program in 40 years,” said CSU Associate Vice Chancellor Dr. Alison Wrynn.
The CSU system is proposing its students, across all 23 campuses, be required to take an ethnic studies and social justice course before they graduate.
“A student might choose a course in African American history and Africana studies or they might choose a course in public health, that looks at public health disparities among communities of color,” Wrynn told FOX40.
Wrynn said the proposal for the ethnic studies requirement is in response to the nationwide protests against racism in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
“This is important to us. It is part of who we are and what we do and we are demonstrating that by making it a requirement,” Wrynn told FOX40.
The CSU system is the largest four-year public university system in the country with nearly 500,000 students. And although it’s pushing for an ethnic studies requirement, they oppose a bill, currently in the Legislature, that would mandate the requirement.
“Doesn’t matter what the subject might be, we believe that our faculty in consultation with administration makes curricular decisions,” said Wrynn.
Assembly Bill 1460 would mandate that CSUs begin offering race and ethnicity courses focusing on Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans and Latin Americans, beginning in the 2021-2022 academic year.
The CSU proposal would begin in 2023 and go beyond the four traditional ethnic groups to also include Jewish, Muslim, Arab and LGBTQ courses.
“Half our students will take this course at the community college level,” said Wrynn. “So, we’ll have to work very closely with our community colleges to ensure that they’re ready.”
The CSU system says the goal is to develop engaging coursework that will drive broader social change.
“You demonstrate what’s important by what you require. And so it’s time that we demonstrate that we believe in this,” said Wrynn.
The Senate passed AB 1460 last week and the CSU proposal will go to their board of trustees for consideration July 21.