A debate at Cal State L.A. over an ethnic studies requirement turned heated Tuesday as several students tried to shout down faculty members who responded by chanting “Let her speak, let her speak.”
Dozens of students crowded into a meeting of the Academic Senate, which was considering a motion that at least one of two required general education diversity classes be in Asian/Asian American studies, Chicano studies, Latin American studies or Pan-African studies, or in related courses in some other departments.
The 55-member senate had rejected a similar requirement last month but had been considering a new motion amid pleas by many students that mandated curriculum should include perspectives from all cultures.
Many ethnic studies instructors who support the requirement argue they have particular expertise in theories and instruction that can’t be replicated in other departments.
Opponents argued that although they valued the study of race and ethnicity, such studies should be integrated throughout the curriculum, allowing students a greater choice in classes.
The one scintilla of sanity in there is the news that some instructors would like students to have more choice. Look, if a student wants to take ethnic studies classes, let him/her. There is no sound educational reason for making them a requirement, however. It’s all just so much PC garbage.
Thankfully, the Los Angeles city council took time out from finding new ways to financially ruin the city and address this most important of issues.
Student and faculty supporters got a boost earlier in the day when the Los Angeles City Council approved by a vote of 14 to 0 a resolution supporting the ethnic studies requirement.
Councilman Gilbert Cedillo, who presented the resolution, said in an interview that greater education on race and ethnicity might help to ease conflict on wider issues facing the city.
“We live in one of the most diverse cities in the world, and people have to have sensitivity to each other and value each other; and ethnic studies contributes to that,” Cedillo said.
It’s true, this is an extremely diverse city. That point alone makes the requirement seem nonsensical. Cal State L.A. isn’t exactly known for its international student body; much of it is homegrown. If one grows up in this city and still lacks “sensitivity”, an Asian-American studies class isn’t going to bring about an epiphany.