Students forced to ‘advance ideologies and values with which they do not agree’
California State University formally opposed legislation that imposes an ethnic studies graduation requirement for its students, saying it was not only redundant but threatened transfer students and graduation as a whole.
Faculty warned that AB 1460 puts the government in charge of what students learn, “potentially jeopardizing not only faculty control over the curriculum but the quality of the university degree itself.”
But the bill was signed into law in August, and now both the systemwide Academic Senate and Chancellor Tim White’s office have approved the “student learning outcomes” for the curriculum, devised by Cal State’s Council on Ethnic Studies.
Pro-Israel groups have long warned that anti-Semitism is at the core of “Critical Ethnic Studies,” and they see the telltale signs of this subset of ethnic studies in the CSU-approved curriculum.
In a Tuesday letter to Chancellor White and CSU trustees, several dozen groups asked how they will “protect the freedom of conscience and expression and ensure the safety and well-being of all CSU students.” It was signed by organizations ranging from the AMCHA Initiative and Zionist Organization of America to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and Legal Insurrection Foundation, the nonprofit behind Cornell Law Prof. William Jacobson’s news organization.
“We are extremely concerned that these required courses will be used as vehicles for indoctrinating students into a narrowly prescribed set of politically-motivated and directed values and practices that many students vigorously oppose, and will incite bigotry and harm against students based on their identities, beliefs and opinions,” they wrote:
Unlike other disciplines in the academy, which seek to instruct students in a body of knowledge and provide them with the analytical tools to objectively evaluate that knowledge and arrive at their own conclusions, Critical Ethnic Studies starts with a set of foregone conclusions and ideological commitments that are imposed on students and must be adopted by them without question or debate.
The core competencies approved by CSU leaders are “rooted in ideologies that divide society into oppressed and oppressor groups” largely based on race, and they “require” student activism based on these ideologies.
Anti-capitalism is religious dogma in critical ethnic studies, meaning that students who favor capitalism may be “penalized for expressing their views in an ethnic studies classroom, or would self-censor their expression for fear of public humiliation.” They would actually be forced to “advance ideologies and values with which they do not agree.”
By “lionizing” the oppressed and “demonizing” the oppressor, critical ethnic studies also harms students who “may well find themselves subject to opprobrium and hostility for being members, or perceived members, of an alleged oppressor group,” the letter continues.
It cites a RealClearInvestigations report last year in which San Francisco State University Prof. Kenneth Monteiro, head of the Council on Ethnic Studies, said the discipline trains teachers to expect that “on the first day of class, or in the first week, you may have students who are sobbing” because they are so “uncomfortable” with the narrative of critical ethnic studies.
Students are being “forced to take a course that singles out some students for emotional abuse because of their identity,” which “can’t help but foment deep divisions in the CSU student body and an unsafe, toxic campus climate for many,” the letter says.
Jewish students are natural targets for abuse under this graduation requirement that considers Jewishness a “racially privileged” identity group and is institutionally committed to Israel’s destruction.
Practitioners of the discipline’s critical subset have long “condoned terrorism against Israel” and championed the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel under the euphemism of “antiracist practices,” the groups said.
They cited a required textbook in an SFSU class that says Israel practices “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” and promotes BDS as intrinsic to critical ethnic studies:
Alarmingly, CSU ethnic studies faculty who have long used their classrooms for anti-Zionist advocacy and activism can now find justification for their politically motivated and directed behavior in the recently approved “ethnic studies core competencies.” Such highly politicized and unprofessional behavior on the part of ethnic studies faculty not only deprives CSU students of accurate information about a complex topic of global importance and tramples on their right to be educated and not politically indoctrinated, it has a well-documented history of inciting hatred and harm towards Israel’s on-campus supporters, particularly Jewish students.