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Ethnic studies programs fight against Executive Order 1100

The ethnic studies departments across California State University campuses continue to fight against an executive order that they believe will negatively affect ethnic studies departments at CSUs.

Executive Order 1100-Revised was issued last year by CSU Chancellor Timothy White. There were recent protests on the CSUN campus where students voiced their opposition to this order, raising concerns about the executive order decreasing the incentive to take ethnic studies classes.

“Being a minority Asian myself, it saddens me to know that ethnic studies is continuing to be shoved away since it allows others to learn about the history and culture about people of color throughout U.S. history,” said Cindy Kim, senior majoring in international and Chinese studies.

Kim added that the department is already seeing low enrollment, so she believes adding these alternative classes is going to put Ethnic Studies in an even more critical state.

According to Craig Stone, American Indian Studies Program Director and professor, three of the Ethnic Studies units at Long Beach State have 50 percent fewer tenure-track faculty than in the last decade.

Another student, Joy Suh, a senior majoring in communication studies, brought up her concerns as an individual who immigrated to the U.S.

“I came to the U.S. before I started high school and it was hard for me,” Suh said. “Knowing that other classes can be taken other than Ethnic Studies makes me sad. I know how hard it was for my friends’ parents coming to America, so now there might be less exposure to the importance behind Ethnic Studies.”

Both Kim and Suh said it can hinder the importance of learning about the struggles that people of color in America have gone through.

“It is the truth we must come to terms with,” Kim said.

David Son, fourth year, expressed his concerns about the future of ethnic studies.

“Ethnic studies is already having low enrollment, so adding more classes I feel like will push away the incentive to take these classes,” he said.

Son emphasized the importance of ethnic studies “because it exposes us to the culture of the people of color here in the U.S. After all, this country originally belonged to people of color. In my opinion, adding extra classes will only push people away from Ethnic Studies, which is already at a low enrollment rate.”

The CSU, however, states that the policies allow campuses to maintain the cultural diversity and ethnic studies courses. 

According to the CSU EO1100 FAQ report, it is stated that “campuses can retain their cultural diversity and ethnic studies courses, which can fit within the frameworks of EO 1100 total GE area limits and GE Area distribution limits.”

According to Martha Escobar, associate professor of the department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at California State University Northridge, EO 1100 will require students to take three units of upper division in humanities, social sciences and the sciences, respectively.

“The requirement of upper division science will contribute to pushing students, particularly impoverished, first generation, and students of color out of high education,” Escobar said.

EO 1100 mandates the double-counting of general education and major requirements, which means that one class that is taken can be credited for another class.

“This dilutes the purpose of general education, which is to be exposed to various fields, perspectives and ideas,” Escobar said.

Escobar said for departments such as Ethnic Studies that are dependent on general education courses for student enrollment, the new upper division science requirement and double counting will reduce the enrollment rate.

Stone said the reason why ethnic studies exists is because it is “one of the few departments that attract, support, tenure and retire faculty of color, so we are an essential component to diversifying the faculty of CSU.”

Stone encourages CSU campuses to define how they will respond to the new CSU GE requirements.

“I suspect that when the dust clears at LBSU, our culture will not revert to a eurocentric general educations pattern alone that will structurally disadvantage Ethnic Studies units,” Stone said.

This story was updated Dec. 12 at 7:31 p.m. There is no Section F at Long Beach State.

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