More colleges implement mandatory anti-racism courses

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed a bill into law making an ethnic studies course mandatory for CSU students.

The University of Pittsburgh on Monday announced a new required online course on systemic anti-Black racism and anti-racism.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) on Monday signed into law Assembly Bill 1460, which makes an ethnic studies class a requirement for students in the California State University system. A three-unit class in either Native American, African American, Asian American, or Latina/Latino studies will be required for students to graduate beginning the 2024-25 school year.

CSU leadership, including Chancellor Timothy White and the Academic Senate, is reportedly opposed to AB 1460, according to the Sundial, CSU-Northridge’s student newspaper, warning that legislation that influences curriculum is a slippery slope. 

The Sundial also reported that Hazel Kelly, CSU public affairs manager for the Chancellor’s Office, said AB 1460 is set to cost $16 million to implement. 

Campus Reform reached out to CSU for a statement regarding the new requirement. CSU spokesman Michael Uhlenkamp said in response, “the university will begin work to implement the requirements of the new legislation.”

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CSU is not the only school system adding a mandatory class on ethnic studies. The University of Pittsburgh on Monday also announced a new required one-credit online course on systemic anti-Black racism and anti-racism that will be required of all first-year students. 

It will be offered starting this fall. 

Rising Senior and Vice President of Pitt College Republicans Corey Barsky told Campus Reform that he thinks this class should be encouraged, but not required.

“I think you get into slippery slopes when you require things of people that are paying,” Barsky said. “Requirements anger a lot more people and turn people off, but when you encourage, you catch more flies.”

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The University of Pittsburgh is also launching an Anti-racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan. Its Division of Student Affairs will now require bias incident report training for staff and student workers. Additionally, Human Resources will add a mandatory anti-racism training module to its required anti-sexual harassment training.

“We must take a closer look at every area within our university—including how we approach teaching, research, financial decisions, policing, recruiting, hiring and contracting,” Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh Patrick Gallagher said Monday in a university news release.

Emory University in Georgia recently announced that it too will implement a new “race and ethnicity” course requirement that will take effect in fall 2021. The announcement came at least five years after the Black Student Union demanded such a requirement. Courses fulfilling the requirement must meet three of four established criteria, one which is to “develop a critical awareness of how racial and ethnic antagonisms and inequality develop historically through individual, institutional, and cultural forces,” as Campus Reform previously reported

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @JezzamineWolk