UC BOARS Passes Ethnic Studies Requirement
Oakland, CA, 8 November 2020 — The University of California Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (UC BOARS) has voted unanimously to investigate the feasibility of a new ethnic studies admissions requirement. The policy would require incoming students from the class of 2031 and beyond to have completed at least one semester of ethnic studies, with two semesters being recommended, when applying to a University of California school. Following this vote, the UC Academic Senate will now be tasked with appointing university faculty to serve on an A-G Ethnic Studies Faculty Workgroup, which will determine the specific course criteria and guidelines for approval of high school-level A-G ethnic studies classes.
The move to implement ethnic studies as an A-G subject course comes a month after Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to veto AB 331, a bill that would have mandated ethnic studies as a high school graduation requirement across California, on the grounds that the model curriculum proposal was insufficiently inclusive and balanced. It also follows Gov. Newsom’s approval a few months ago of a measure to make ethnic studies a graduation requirement across the California State University (CSU) system. The UC’s decision will likely catalyze development of an ethnic studies curriculum in the California Department of Education (CDE), as the CDE will be responsible for ensuring that all California school districts have an accessible model curriculum to adopt in their high schools.
GENup congratulates the UC BOARS on their decision to promote institutional change and more fully fulfill their commitment to underrepresented students and appreciate the work that our collegiate chapters did in making this proposition pass. We believe that this decision will set us on a path to a full ethnic studies mandate, which will encourage more schools to offer ethnic studies courses to their students, as well as making ethnic studies be taken more seriously as a crucial part of every student’s education.
We have to add Ethnic Studies as an A-G requirement!
What is Ethnic Studies?
Ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity, and indigenous communities and culture that teaches history through lenses that are frequently ignored in traditional courses.
Ethnic studies classes were first pioneered by BIPOC students from San Francisco State and UC Berkeley (forming the Third World Liberation Front) who felt their ethnic groups were not properly reflected in the curriculum and faculty at their universities. They demanded that administrators offer classes that taught students cultural competence and how to be actively anti-racist, staging strikes for several months until administrators met their demands.
Though ethnic studies courses were introduced on many college campuses following the strikes in the late 1960s, they are still not widely available to most high school students, and university students usually have to enroll in the class as an elective. Without allowing all students the opportunity to take an ethnic studies class, our current education system is failing marginalized communities by letting their stories go untold in mainstream history curricula.
What is the AGES Coalition?
As GENup’s high school chapters fought to make Ethnic Studies a mandatory course for all high schools in California, our collegiate chapters have been working on a similar initiative.
AGES, or A-G Ethnic Studies, is a coalition of student activist groups that formed to petition the UC Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools to make Ethnic Studies a required course for entry into any college within the UC system, much like required English, science or math courses.
The UC BOARS will be discussing whether to include Ethnic Studies as an A-G requirement, beginning in 2030, at a meeting on Oct. 2nd.
Why should Ethnic Studies be an A-G requirement?
Learning about our diverse histories and experiences is too important to be left up to choice, especially in our rapidly diversifying nation and state.
Taking an ethnic studies class has a measurably positive impact on students. A study out of Stanford University shows that high school students at-risk of dropping out experienced boosted attendance and academic performance after taking ethnic studies.
How can I get involved?