Ethnic studies requirement that Newsom called 'offensive' is on thin ice

The proposal's advancement was reeled back by the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools, effectively ending its progression to the UC Board of Regents for approval.

Governor Gavin Newsom struck down the proposal in 2020 for being 'highly politicized' and promised it would 'never see the light of day.'

A University of California (UC) proposal that would require high school students to pass an ethnic studies course in order to be admitted to any of the schools in the system has been slowed after contentious debate and accusations of anti-Semitism.

The proposal’s advancement was reeled back by the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS), effectively ending its progression to the UC Board of Regents for approval. 

According to minutes recorded from a May 6 meeting, anonymous members were not “persuaded” that the draft reflected feedback from the campus community. The draft was subjected to extreme scrutiny by critics who accused it of being bigoted and hateful. 

Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC-San Diego Andrew Jolivette told Campus Reform that the criticism is spurred by “white supremacist organizations” and “fringe UC professors.”

The only thing we have to lose is our chains,” he said. “This requirement will happen one way or another because our society will not survive without it.”

EdSource reported on June 1 that the policy was “shelved.” 

”My understanding is that BOARS has one more meeting in July and if they cannot reach a decision the review process will continue into next year and go from Boars to the UC Academic Council and then to the UC Regents and President for approval,” Jolivette said. 

BOARS “oversees all matters relating to the admissions of undergraduate students” in the UC system. 

[RELATED: No diploma for CA students not versed in ‘ethnic studies’]

After the May 6 meeting, a press release was published by the “UC-appointed ethnic studies writing team” to condemn the decision to stunt the proposal’s approval.

The team insisted that the proposal was compromised by “racist external pressures.” According to the members, ethnic studies is already a requirement for high school students, and should be applied for entry to the state school system as well. 

”The state of California is already a minority majority state and the government has also mandated an Ethnic Studies requirement which is long over due [sic],” Jolivette told Campus Reform. “Not having Frank [sic] and honest conversations about race, racism, culture, and history, are a disservice to all those interested in a more just end democratic society.”

As Campus Reform previously reported, nearly 2,000 people signed a petition to reject the admission proposal. 

The critics alleged that anti-Zionist teaching would lead to an increase in more anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish students.

”Deliberations ensued that addressed issues ranging from the level of alignment between the proposed criteria and the state’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC), to the scope and nature of ethnic studies as an academic discipline,” the minutes read.

BOARS members also expressed concern about a previous failed attempt to impose ESMC on high school curricula. 

Governor Gavin Newsom struck down the proposal in 2020 for being “highly politicized” and promised it would “never see the light of day.”

Newsom addressed that ESMC was “highly politicized” and was “offensive in so many ways” to Jewish students.

[RELATED: UPDATED: National leaders call for end to DEI officers’ anti-Semitism]

However, the faculty team rebuked these concerns and stated that the proposal did not reference “Israel, Jewish people, or Judaism.” According to the statement, allegations that the proposal could be anti-Semitic “is a LIE.”

”[T]he proposal that we and other ethnic studies scholars and practitioners drafted leaves the question of ethnic studies and religion open for curriculum development at the district level,” the statement explains. 

The proposal will be reconsidered after BOARS members “consult further with their campus committees.” Jolivette told Campus Reform that if the organization fails to come to an agreement, “the review process will continue into next year.”

The proposal still has multiple hoops to jump through and will need approval from BOARS, the UC Academic Council, the UC Regents, and the President, according to Jolivette.

Currently, UC applicants are required to have completed a semester of English, science, history, foreign language, and the visual or performing arts, EdSource reports.

The ethnic studies requirement could be satisfied by being the focus of an English or History course.

An ethnic studies requirement must be satisfied in order to earn a spot at California State University.

Campus Reform contacted all organizations involved for comment and this article will be updated accordingly.

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