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UCLA kills plan for online classes on immigrants' rights

September 14, 2012 |  5:46 pm

Students walk to class on the UCLA campus in Westwood in April.

UCLA has killed a proposed online program focused on teaching undocumented students about immigrants’ rights and labor activism. Republican lawmakers had criticized the proposal, which involved a partnership between a UCLA labor studies center and a national college founded by unions.

UCLA on Friday said the so-called National Dream University, which was to open in early 2013, had not received the needed approvals from UCLA’s faculty and administrators. As a result, the agreement between UCLA’s Center for Labor Research and Education and the AFL-CIO-affiliated National Labor College to develop the online classes “has been declared void” and no more work can be done on it by UCLA staff or faculty, according to a statement.

A campus spokesman stressed that the program would not have offered UCLA academic credit or been part of the campus offerings.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-San Bernardino) wrote to UC President Mark G. Yudof last month to ask whether the proposal used tax money and complained that it seemed to discriminate against people who did not share its political goals. On Friday, a spokeswoman for Donnelly said he was pleased about UCLA’s decision and said it protects taxpayers.

Republicans for years have complained that UCLA’s labor research center is ideologically leftist.

Kent Wong, director of the UCLA labor research center, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The program was supposed to be a one-year curriculum, charging $2,500 in tuition, and only 35 students were expected to enroll the first year, according to an article last month in the Daily Bruin, the UCLA student newspaper. The online studies were supposed to lead to a certificate, and some schools may have accepted it for transfer credits.

Although it was to be open to all students, Wong told the Daily Bruin, the classes were to give undocumented students, in particular, a chance to learn about labor rights and possibly become involved in social justice movements.


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Photo: Students walk to class on the UCLA campus in Westwood in April. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times