Wednesday, December 11

Academic Senate accepts statements for, against diversity requirement

All UCLA Academic Senate members can submit statements for or against the diversity requirement proposal during the next two weeks leading up to a new faculty-wide vote on the measure.

On Feb. 12, a group of 64 UCLA professors and administrators from multiple departments and schools submitted a new petition to challenge a previous vote in favor of implementing a new diversity course requirement.

Academic Senate members had originally planned to vote on the requirement proposal this week, but the vote was pushed back to the end of March because petitioners had to resubmit the document due to wording problems.

The petition calls for around 3,600 members of the Academic Senate to vote on whether the UCLA College of Letters and Science should add a mandated diversity-related class to its graduation requirements. Previously, only faculty in the College voted to implement the requirement.

“If you want to get the broadest support, (it is) best for the requirement to get considered by the most amount of people,” said political science professor Richard Anderson Jr., who signed the petition.

The requirement would mandate students take a course about inequalities based on factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and religion. After College faculty approved the requirement proposal, the Academic Senate approved it with an 85-18 vote.

The new petition’s language differs slightly from the earlier document, since the past petition did not specify that the requirement was only for students enrolled in the College of Letters and Science.

Some professors said they signed the new petition because they think the conversations around the course requirement turned into an overly politicized issue.

Dr. Joseph Horwitz, a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine, said he does not support the College instituting a diversity-related requirement because he thinks campus funds should go to classes that help students learn skills, such as classes about student loans and finances.

“I think it’s wasting precious resources that students need on political issues that have nothing to do with (students’) education and future,” Horwitz said.

Some estimate the university will take hundreds of thousands of dollars in the next few years from the general university budget to pay for course development, professor and teaching assistant trainings, lectureships and symposiums.

Last fall, the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provosts’ office said it would support the proposal and not have its cost fall onto the shoulders of individual academic departments.

“Administrators have committed to making the diversity requirement sustainable,” said Allyson Bach, Undergraduate Students Association Council Academic Affairs commissioner.

While Anderson said he plans to vote in favor of the diversity requirement, he thinks people with dissenting opinions about the requirement should be allowed to express their viewpoints.

“Diversity also means diversity of opinion, (and people) need to be willing to hear (opposing ideas),” Anderson said.

Eligible voting professors can submit their pro or con statements through email from Feb. 17 to March 9 to dentistry professor Neal Garrett, the Academic Senate secretary. The pro and con statements will be posted on the UCLA Academic Senate website.

Voting will last from March 30 to April 10.

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