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Majority of students favor proposal to create GE diversity requirement in CUE initiative advisory vote

By Shoshee Jau

May 6, 2011 3:21 a.m.

An advisory vote regarding the introduction of a diversity general education requirement was passed with 62.9 percent in favor, garnering 5,337 of a total of 8,480 student votes.

The Communicating Unity Through Education initiative, which was one of two advisory votes attached to the ballot this year, aimed to gauge student support for replacing the third course in the Foundations of Society and Culture requirement with a diversity-oriented class.

An advisory vote is a non-binding poll administered by the Undergraduate Students Association Council, intended to encourage administration to consider students’ opinions.

Academic Affairs Commissioner Suza Khy said the purpose of the revision is to promote students’ responsibilities as global citizens by increasing their knowledge of the diverse communities around them.

“To be an effective leader, you need to understand the communities you’re going to be interacting with and the communities you’re going to be serving,” Khy said in a interview earlier this week.

Yet some who voted against the initiative argued that it was not a strategic way to use the College’s resources, said third-year economics student Brent Gaisford.

“This is UCLA, and people already want to learn about diversity,” he said.

Gaisford said he is concerned that implementing a new requirement might take a lot of money, which the university would better spend elsewhere.

Although the Faculty Executive Committee ratified the concept of a diversity-oriented general education curriculum, it has yet to decide how to implement it, said FEC chair Raymond Knapp.

A newly formed implementation subcommittee will meet for the first time today to create criteria for the proposed revision, Knapp said.

The FEC hopes to develop a list of classes that would satisfy the requirement by the end of the quarter. Once finalized, the plan will be voted on by all the faculty members of the College.

Although the vote is only advisory, Knapp said he believes the faculty will act on students’ opinions.

“I’ve always found that in all the groups that I’ve been in … the faculty listen to and are obviously swayed by what students have to say,” Knapp said.

A similar proposal to address diversity in the general education curriculum was voted down when the College last revised the requirements in the 1990s, Knapp said.

“I was one of the architects of the first diversity requirement a decade ago, and it was a fairly close vote last time,” he said.

“The basis now is slightly different, and the organization of how it would work is slightly different ““ we will see if it is different enough.”

Knapp said he hopes the proposal will go to a faculty vote this fall, and if passed by the Academic Senate, it will be implemented in fall 2012.

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