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UCLA Chancellor Wants Mandatory Diversity Classes for Most Students

UCLA's largest faculty group, which has authority over curriculum changes, has repeatedly rejected the idea.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. Photo courtesy UCLA.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. Photo courtesy UCLA.

Despite three unsuccessful previous efforts, UCLA officials again are proposing that most undergraduates take a class in racial, cultural, gender or religious diversity, the school's chancellor said in remarks published today.

Most UC campuses and many other universities have such a requirement. But UCLA's largest faculty group, which has authority over curriculum changes, has repeatedly rejected the idea, most recently in a low-turnout vote in 2012. Now, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block is trying again for what he said is an important academic goal, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"We owe it to our students," Block told The Times. "Many of our students have wanted this for several years. I think the faculty owes it to the students to pay attention, even though I understand there are intellectual arguments on both sides of the issue."

Although Block said he knows that cultural diversity topics are infused in many classes, he said that "there is value to an explicit class that deals with the multiple cultures in the United States living together and the conflicts."

Past proposals sparked arguments about whether students were overburdened with other requirements, particularly in the sciences, and whether a budget-strapped university could afford extra classes, The Times reported. Additional questions about whether these classes improve ethnic relations and whether they usually skew left politically were also raised at UCLA and other campuses nationwide that had similar debates.

UCLA is an ethnically diverse campus, but the small number of African American undergraduates continues to be an issue. Among the nearly 25,300 U.S undergraduates there, about 39 percent are Asian American or Pacific Islander, 31 percent are white, 20 percent are Latino and 4 percent are black, according to last fall's statistics.

--City News Service


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