- Associated Press - Saturday, November 1, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Faculty members at the University of California, Los Angeles have voted to require future undergraduates to take a course on ethnic, religious, cultural and gender diversity.

Two other faculty and administrative review panels must approve the requirement before it takes effect, but it is supported by UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, who says such classes would help prepare students to live and work in a multicultural society.

The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday (http://lat.ms/1s33mxJ) that the school’s largest academic unit, the College of Letters and Science, voted narrowly to start the requirement for incoming freshmen in fall 2015. It would kick in for new transfer students in 2017.

In a statement released Friday, Block said he was pleased by the faculty’s endorsement.

“A diversity-related course requirement for UCLA College undergraduates is an important component of our commitment to expose students to beliefs and backgrounds other than their own,” he said.

Opponents say students are overburdened with other requirements, and question if such classes improve ethnic relations or are freighted with a political agenda.

The move Friday comes after several previous attempts to approve similar requirements failed.

The courses are expected to be offered by many academic departments, ranging from sociology to statistics, and students will be required to choose one for an academic quarter.

M. Belinda Tucker, UCLA psychiatry and biobehavioral professor who was a co-chair of the diversity initiative, told the newspaper the requirement will be more broadly defined than at some other campuses because it will include courses on international topics, not just domestic issues.

Most other University of California campuses require such courses. The College of Letters and Science enrolls about 85 percent of UCLA’s undergraduates.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com

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