ANALYSIS: Opposition to UCLA diversity requirement has been surprisingly successful
LOS ANGELES – Starting today and running through April 10, educators at UCLA can vote over whether to create a new academic requirement for undergrads that would force them to take some sort of diversity class.
The vote on its face may seem unremarkable – campuses across the United States have added such mandates, including most University of California schools.
But what makes this vote different is that it represents the culmination of months of hard work – lobbying, protests and education campaigns – by a coalition of professors and students at UCLA who have taken a stand for academic freedom against the threat of more liberal bias on campus. I am proud to be a member of this coalition.
I am proud that despite calls for professors that oppose the requirement to be fired, and the use of student funds to put on events to support the controversial ballot measure, we have stood up for undergraduates.
And, surprisingly, we have been successful.
The new mandate was initially approved in a 332-303 vote by College of Letters & Science faculty in October. After its passage, a petition signed by 64 professors forced the issue to a full faculty vote.
This is important, as it allows unbiased professors from every school at UCLA to vote on the requirement, expanding the pool of voters to more than 3,000. Voting begins March 30 and continues until April 10. All UCLA professors, current and emeritus, can vote.
Getting this new vote to take place took perseverance – and it also highlighted the fact that there many more on campus who oppose leftist indoctrination than one might think. Student advocates like myself have been pleased to discover that there are a large number of students and faculty who stand against being told how to think.
When student activists, led by Bruin Republicans, organized a protest against the requirement in January, Yik Yak was abuzz with students expressing their outrage over the idea of spending more of their tuition money on classes they find polarizing or that have nothing to do with their major.
Members of the Bruin Republicans also emailed hundreds of faculty members outside the College of Letters & Science to voice concerns. Professors from the medical, dental and engineering schools, for example. In the emails we explained that not all students are hive minds to the “social justice” cause. We expressed the very real experience that these types of “diversity” classes force a political mindset on students. Many professors emailed back, expressing their sense of solidarity with us.
During our Facebook campaign against the requirement, we experienced some personal and racial attacks from proponents of the diversity requirement, but these attacks only revealed to fellow students the true colors of many of the “social justice” crusaders. Many of our peers came to our defense. We did not convince everyone, but hundreds of comments later, many students who were previously in support of the requirement are questioning its effectiveness.
What started with just myself and two professors has grown into a movement on campus. We now have a full website, www.realdiversity.org, that we created so the administration could not hijack the debate by making con arguments harder to find.
Articles from prominent professors appear on Real Diversity and on the official Academic Senate website, and give compelling arguments as to why the requirement should not be passed.
Professor Schwartz, an acclaimed political science professor who is popular among students, writes that the diversity requirement proponents are “scraping the bottom of the academic barrel” in the studies they site to support the requirement. He states that despite the unsubstantiated studies, “diversity proponents could not find a single study that even purported to show that ‘diversity’ courses cured bad attitudes.”
Professor Manson, a respected anthropology professor, elaborates that “the cited data [in support of the mandate] provide no compelling argument for imposing a new course requirement.”
Professor Trachtenberg, a respected expert in international relations, diplomatic history and historical research methods, states that the requirement might have a “ ‘ghettoization’ effect” by “encouraging students to retreat into their various identity group enclaves.”
Professor Malkan, a leading professor in the department of astrophysics, finds that there will be a “diversity deficit” caused by the lack of courses available to fulfill the requirement and a lack of money available to finance the courses.
As the voting begins, I hope that other professors at UCLA will see that this requirement is a political, not an academic, pursuit. I hope that they see that students already struggle to graduate on time. I hope that they see that money is scarce. But no matter the result, one thing has become clear: there still exists a quiet and calm foundation of people in academia that believe in seeking truth and supporting freedom.
College Fix contributor Jacob Kohlhepp is a student at UCLA and vice president of the Bruin Republicans.
IMAGES: The College Fix