CALEXICO — San Diego State University Imperial Valley will require students majoring in Criminal Justice to complete a course in “race relations in criminal justice” in the future. In the fall, the university’s School of Public Affairs, in partnership with the SDSU World Campus, will offer a course on race relations and policing for law enforcement agencies across the nation.

The university is implementing programs in the wake of nationwide unrest due to the mistreatment of African-Americans at the hands of police. The new initiatives are spelled out in a resolution co-authored by SDSU IV Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Mark Wheeler that was unanimously approved by the University Senate earlier this month.

“The new programs are part of the university’s ongoing commitment to provide leadership with regard to one of the biggest challenges facing society,” Wheeler said. “As a university, we are committed to embracing diversity and promoting tolerance.”

In a landmark move earlier this year, Wheeler said the university implemented a requirement that every undergraduate take a course in ethnic studies.

“As a university, we are ahead of everyone else,” Wheeler said. “We are setting a model for other universities in our dedication to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community and the steps we are taking to make that happen.”

The new course requirement for Criminal Justice majors will go into effect in fall 2021 to allow time for the development of the course that will address violence against the black community by those in positions of authority.

The resolution stated, “…there is a need to ensure that SDSU’s criminal justice graduates will enter careers in law enforcement or other justice system-related careers prepared to engage black communities in healthy ways, while also holding colleagues accountable for the pervasive and normalized violence toward black people.”

Wheeler said Criminal Justice is one of the most popular majors at SDSU IV. The new race relations in criminal justice will give CJ majors a greater understanding of the need for equity and inclusion that will have a lasting impact on local law enforcement agencies.

In the fall, Imperial Valley law enforcement agencies will have an opportunity to participate in a course on race relations and policing that is now being developed by the university’s School of Public Affairs in Partnership with the SDSU World Campus. The course will be available to local agencies at no cost or minimal cost.

“We think the program will be especially important in the Valley because of its proximity to the border, with the location of two state prisons here, as well as the local law enforcement agencies,” Wheeler said.

Additionally, the university’s School of Public Affairs in partnership with the SDSU World Campus is developing a certificate program on race relations in criminal justice that will be offered to law enforcement and other agencies affiliated with criminal justice in San Diego, Imperial Valley and across the Nation starting in 2021.

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