LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — The Cal State University Board of Trustees has voted to require students to take a ethnic studies or social justice course in order to graduate.

The board approved the policy on a 13-5 vote, with one abstention. Board member Silas Abrego tried to have the vote postponed, saying the university needed more consultation with ethnic-studies faculty members.

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The California Faculty Association was critical of the proposal, saying the social justice option waters down the intent of the ethnic studies movement, while a CSU graduate like Nick, who declined to give his last name, argues there are already too many general education requirements and not enough courses connected to majors.

“You’re spending time and money on this, and you should focus on what’s going to help you get a job and a career,” he said. “That’s what students should focus on.”

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CSU’s general education requirements have not been changed in 40 years, but the addition of an ethnic studies course has been debated for a while and has gained more urgency in the wake of recent protests against racial injustice.

“I think it’s an excellent idea. I would be 100% behind it,” Long Beach resident Frances Brown said. “I think it would be a good idea to start it out in freshman year. So their four years of education would be even more comfortable for all of them.”

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The new requirement will go into effect in the 2023-34 school year. However, if state lawmakers pass a bill that’s currently under debate to require college students to take an ethnic studies law, that would supersede any requirement from the Cal State University system.