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Protesters defend ethnic and gender studies during Board of Trustees meeting

Correction: Executive Order 1110 and 1100R will not eliminate the need for students to take courses in Ethnic Studies. 

A circle of concerned students and professors from Long Beach State and California State University, Northridge, among other campuses, gathered near the entrance of the CSU Chancellor’s office Tuesday, chanting slogans such as “hey hey! Ho ho! Chancellor White has got to go.”

The group gathered to protest at the Board of Trustees meeting on the implementation of Executive Orders 1100 and 1110-R and voiced their complaints at the meeting as well. EO 1110 states that students are to be enrolled into General Education courses rather than remedial math and English. 1100-R establishes a new GE curriculum. Some at CSUN are worried that 1100-R would phase out Area F of the CSUN GE requirements. Area F outlines six units of ethnic, gender and sexuality studies courses.

Rocio Rivera-Murillo, a CSUN sociology and Chicano studies major, led the call and response through a megaphone.

“When Ethnic Studies is under attack, what the f*** do we do?” Rivera-Murillo said.

The group responded: “Stand up! Fight back!”

In August 2017, Executive Orders 1110 and 1100-R were placed into effect by Chancellor Timothy P. White.

The chancellor voiced in the guiding principles of the order that students have already taken these preparatory courses in high school; therefore they are not necessary. By eliminating of these types of courses, White argues that students can graduate faster, which falls in line with CSU goals to increase four-year graduation rates.

According to the CSUN website, however, Section F will not see any major changes and will still require 6 units to be taken by students. Due to the EO 1100R, Section F might have a change in student enrollments but so will the other sections. Students who have transferred to CSUN that have already fulfilled their GE requirements are exempted from Section F.

However, some CSUN students and faculty argue that with Executive Order 1100-R students will not seek out Area F classes that go over ethnic, gender and sexuality studies, thus diminishing the quality of their education. Protesters also argued that remedial courses and ethnic, sexuality and gender courses help with the retention of students of color. 

“Research, national research, CSU research shows that remedial education puts students of color at a disadvantage and that’s one of the reasons why we decided to get rid of non-credit bearing remedial courses,” said Toni Molle, director of public affairs at the Office of the Chancellor. Molle referred to a study done by the City University of New York.

During the public comment portion of the BOT Committee on Educational Policy, speakers took to the platform to voice their concerns.

Raven Adams, a third year Africana studies major, believes that LBSU does not do enough to let students know that ethnic studies classes are available to them. 1100-R would make it more difficult for students to find these classes.

“It might not outwardly say, ‘We don’t want these classes here’ but it does not value them at the same level as other classes despite the fact that Long Beach [State] claims to support diversity and cultural understanding,” Adams said. “These classes are where you are going to get that.”

Protesters lifted signs with slogans such as “Keep Diversity in Our University”  and “Your silence will not protect you.” Professors and students spoke on how the executive orders would affect them; some with tears in their eyes.

Asia Gonzalez, a fourth-year Chicano studies major, arrived with Students for Quality Education and La Raza Student Association.

“A lot of times, the Board of Trustees, they continue to make decisions for the school across all the Cal States without referring to students … so a lot of the times we have to take time out of our day to come here and voice our opinions,” Gonzalez said.  

According to Karen Loong, a fourth-year Asian-American studies student from CSUN who helped organize the demonstration, Northridge is the only campus in the CSU system whose Faculty Senate voted against the orders. CSUN students and faculty plan to travel across the state in protest against these orders, which are still in effect. Their next demonstration will be Thursday at CSU Los Angeles.

After speaking at the Board of Trustees meeting, demonstrators staged a walkout, chanting “Chancellor White has got to go” with their fists in the air.

“This is a statewide movement, and we have nothing to be afraid of,” said Stevie Ruiz, a CSUN Chicanx studies professor. “We are going to continue until this stops. No negotiation until it is gone.”

Story was updated to add CSUN Area F GE requirements may be affected by EO 1100-R and to add a quote from Toni Molle, director of public affairs for the Office of the Chancellor.

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