A bill is currently moving through California’s Senate that, if passed, would make a three-unit ethnic studies course a graduation requirement for all California State University undergraduates.
Known as AB-1460, the bill was introduced into the California Senate in February of last year. It defines ethnic studies as an interdisciplinary and comparative study of race and ethnicity.
According to the bill, ethnic studies classes are beneficial to all students because they help build an inclusive multicultural democracy.
The bill is currently being revised, it needs a simple majority in order to pass. If it passes, it will go into effect in the 2024-2025 school year.
According to Kim Berry, the chair of the Critical Race, Gender and Sexuality (CRGS) department, the bill is mostly general. It doesn’t define learning outcomes or mandate that any specific topics be covered, it gives the CSU’s the freedom to define the curriculum
“The one thing that isn’t [a] variable is that it needs to be rooted in the discipline of ethnic studies,” Berry said.
Some people against the bill have made the argument that making ethnic studies a graduation requirement would make it take longer for students to graduate.
Berry hopes that campuses will create a range of options, including double-counting so as to not burden students with more units.
This bill is something that many students have been demanding for a long time. Students for Quality Education (SQE), a group under the California Faculty Association, has been advocating for approval of the bill on social media.
“I feel like ethnic studies in general gives students the tools to actually resist what’s going on. It’s not just about learning why things are the way they are,” Nathalie Rivera, SQE member and senior CRGS major said.
SQE member and senior political science major, Izzie Rodriguez Torres believes that the intersectional nature of ethnic studies enriches students overall learning experience because it provides them with context and background to the issues of the current political climate.
Another SQE member, `CRGS major Deema Hindawi believes normal history classes give students of color a eurocentric narrative, while ethnic studies classes give these students knowledge that they can actually relate to.
“I never liked history,” Hindawi said. “I love ethnic studies.”