Faculty Senate approves establishment of ethnic studies requirement at Sac State

Area D requirement lowered by 3 units for incoming freshmen fall 2021


Rahul Lal

(File photo) A demonstrator holds a sign advocating for AB 1460 in the University Union at a Faculty Senate meeting Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. Sacramento State’s Faculty Senate approved the establishment of a general education ethnic studies requirement during its meeting Thursday, April 1, 2020.

Eric Jaramishian

Sacramento State’s Faculty Senate voted Thursday to approve the establishment of an ethnic studies requirement in general education area F, complying with AB 1460, which was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in August 2020

The new requirement will be implemented in the 2021-2022 academic year. AB 1460 requires that California State Universities begin requiring one three-unit course in ethnic studies as an undergraduate graduation requirement for students graduating in 2024-2025, as well as requiring that the university cannot increase the number of units required to graduate because of this addition.

Ethnic studies classes, labeled with the class code ETHN, will be used to fulfill this requirement, according to the Faculty Senate.

During the agenda amendments, Senator Tony Sheppard of the Faculty Senate said that the Faculty Senate’s support and approval of this new requirement is due to the changes being law and not due to pressure from other universities like Long Beach State, which advocated heavily for the bill’s passage in California’s legislature.

“We are not debating whether or not to do this. We are simply debating today whether the language before us captures the intent of the campus-level response,” Sheppard said.  

During discussion of the agenda item, Neelam Bandhu, president of the Ethnic Studies Student Association at Sac State, said that ethnic studies was founded by student activists and that the California State University system should stay true to the history of ethnic studies. Bandhu said not approving the ethnic studies requirement would be a “betrayal to the establishment of this legacy.”

(File photo) Criminal Justice major Neelam Bandhu advocates for the passing of AB 1460, a bill which will require CSU students to complete an ethnic studies course as part of their GE requirements Feb. 27, 2020. Bandhu, now the president of the Ethnic Studies Student Association at Sac State, spoke about the importance of the requirement at the Faculty Senate meeting Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Rahul Lal)

The Faculty Senate also voted to recommend approval of amendments to the general education area D, the individual and society requirement. 

The amendments include recommending a reduction in units in area D from 12 units to nine to accommodate the establishment of the new ethnic studies area F requirements, a directive from the CSU system. Ethnic studies classes are currently an option to fulfill area D requirements for general education but are not required for students to take. 

The Faculty Senate also discussed renaming the College of Business Administration to the College of Business, as well as renaming the department of women’s studies to the department of women’s and gender studies.

Sujatha Moni, chair of the women’s studies department, said that the renaming of the women’s studies department is long overdue to reflect the curriculum they teach.

“It’s pretty consistent with the majority of the gender studies programs around the country and within the CSU system, so this is the final step in the formality we are completing here,” Moni said.

The recommendations for name changes will go into second reading for Faculty Senate approval in a future meeting, according to Tracy Dawn Hamilton, chair of the Faculty Senate.