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California's Fight for Ethnic Studies

GENup's fight to make ethnic studies an admissions requirement for all University of California (UC) schools

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Always envisioning a better world. Passionate about radical politics, abolition, and liberation. Loves dogs, spooky things and Angela Davis.

The University of California Board of Admissions and School Relations (BOARS) decided on November 6 to accept a proposal that would make ethnic studies an admissions requirement for most students applying to a University of California (UC) school starting in the 2030–2031 school year.

The proposal, written by educational equity organization GENup, will require in-state and out-of-state undergraduate applicants to take half a semester of an approved ethnic studies course. International students would not be affected.

Before implementation, the proposal must be approved by the UC Academic Senate and the UC Board of Regents. Within the coming months, the UC Academic Senate will appoint an A-G Ethnic Studies Faculty Workgroup, composed of university faculty, to create course criteria and guidelines for the ethnic studies requirement.

According to GENup’s website, “ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity and indigenous communities and culture that teaches history through lenses that are frequently ignored in traditional courses.”

“By affirming the identities and contributions of marginalized groups, ethnic studies allows students to see themselves reflected throughout history,” Alvin Lee, the Executive Director of GENup, said. “Students will also grow up with a much more nuanced understanding of the role race plays in our society, and all of the contributions communities of color have made.”

BOARS is a UC committee responsible for decisions regarding UC undergraduate admissions and works to improve the admissions process by recommending actions. The committee meets monthly.

Ethnic studies originates from the Third World Liberation Front, a group of students attending San Francisco State University and the University of California Berkeley. The coalition led a strike demanding additional education regarding Black, Indigenous and people of color history, which led to the creation of ethnic studies programs on both campuses.