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UCLA to hold faculty-wide vote on diversity requirement

By Kendal Mitchell

Dec. 18, 2014 10:27 p.m.

This post was updated on Jan. 23 at 3:29 p.m.

UCLA Academic Senate members will vote on the diversity requirement after dozens of professors petitioned to broaden the vote to include faculty of all the colleges in the university.

A group of 59 professors and administrators are calling for an all-faculty vote to challenge the implementation of a diversity requirement, which calls for students to take a course about inequalities based on factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and religion. For a list of the professors and administrators who petitioned, click here.

Under Academic Senate bylaws, a group of faculty can petition to call on all Academic Senate faculty members to vote on an issue after a vote by the Legislative Assembly, said Joel Aberbach, Academic Senate chair.

Previously, only faculty and staff members in the College of Letters and Science voted for the diversity requirement. Under the new petition, around 3,600 Academic Senate members, regardless of school or college, will be able to vote for the requirement.

The requirement met all the steps needed for successful implementation during fall quarter. In late October, the UCLA College of Letters and Science passed the requirement in a close 332-303 vote. By mid-November, the Academic Senate approved the measure, with 85 in favor and 18 in opposition.

Under the passed legislation, first-year students entering the College of Letters and Science in fall 2015 and transfer students in 2017 would need to take a diversity-related class for graduation.

M. Belinda Tucker, vice provost of the UCLA Institute of American Cultures who helped develop the diversity requirement, could not be reached for comment by the time of publication.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of the diversity requirement in late November.

Allyson Bach, USAC Academic Affairs commissioner, said she is very concerned about the effects of the petition because of its implications in preventing the diversity requirement’s implementation.

Before the creation of the petition, the Academic Senate had planned to spend winter quarter vetting syllabi for classes that could fulfill the diversity requirement, Bach said.

Now, Bach said she plans to redouble her efforts by reaching out to faculty and staff in order to pass the requirement on a university-wide level.

In an online statement Friday, USAC President Avinoam Baral said he thinks the petition undermines years of advocacy efforts for the requirement. He added that he thinks it is unfortunate that supporters will have to campaign for the February vote instead of focusing on developing syllabi for future requirement courses.

Baral said he plans to work with the Academic Affairs Commission and Academic Senate to rally support in favor of the diversity requirement leading up to the new vote.

Aberbach said he thinks it is difficult to guess the degree of involvement of all UCLA faculty for this vote. He added that professors can create syllabi for classes they want the Academic Senate to consider for the requirement.

Bach said she does not understand why other colleges would need to vote on the College of Letters and Science’s diversity requirement.

“(The diversity requirement) does not affect the other school’s students,” Bach said.

Faculty can vote online from Feb. 25 through March 10.

Complied by Kendal Mitchell, Bruin staff, with contributing reports by Amanda Schallert, Bruin senior staff.

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