The Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors endorsed assembly bill 1460 (AB 1460), which would require California State University (CSU) undergraduate students to complete a three unit ethnic studies course.
The vote was almost unanimous, with 20 board members voting for the endorsement. Only one board member voted against the endorsement and three board members abstained from voting.
Around 15 students spoke at the open forum during the March 4 meeting to encourage the board to endorse the bill. Several students also voiced their concerns over the construction of a new Latinx center, which the university administration is considering placing in Sequoia Hall.
The open forum, which is typically around 15 minutes, was extended by an additional hour and 15 minutes to accommodate for the amount of students and faculty that wished to speak. The board saw the most amount of student engagement at this meeting — more than they have seen all year, according to chair of the Board of Directors and political science junior Rob Moore.
Some students that spoke in favor of the endorsement of the bill noted that the ethnic studies course requirement would serve to benefit and better educate a predominantly white university.
“We are all here because we want to be leaders, because we want to develop ourselves in order to carry our people and our country into the future,” electrical engineering senior Alejandro Bupara said. “The only way to do that, especially in a state as diverse as California, is for everybody to understand the struggles that students of color face.”
Ethnic studies courses “play an important role in building an inclusive multicultural democracy” and benefit “both students of color and white students … academically as well as socially,” according to the AB 1460’s official document.
The endorsement does not actually alter ASI bylaws or directly affect university policy. However, as the official voice of the students, the board has shown Cal Poly administration and the California state legislature that Cal Poly students are in favor of AB 1460, Moore said.
“It’s really heartening to see people showing up that really shouldn’t have to take the time [to do so],” Moore said.
If passed by the California state legislature, the additional ethnic studies graduation requirement would start in the 2020-2021 academic year.
Correction: A former version of this article stated that only two out of 25 board members voted against the endorsement. The article has been updated to reflect that only one board member voted against the endorsement and three board members abstained from voting.