Cal State Long Beach investigates exam question about gangs student says was racist

Cal State Long Beach administrators are investigating after a student tweeted an image of a question from his health science exam, alleging that the query targets minorities.
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Among the expected questions on a health science education final exam about bacterial and sexually transmitted diseases was one multiple-choice query that some Cal State Long Beach students say targets minorities.

Question 50 on the take-home exam read, “Which of the following gangs generally do the least graffiti?” Four possible answers were provided: “A. Black, B. Asian, C. Hispanic, D. White.”

Student Alex Rambo, 31, who tweeted a photo of the question Monday, said the topic was never discussed in his Health Science for Secondary Teachers course, a class designed for future middle and high school instructors.


“When I tell you I HATE my Thursday night class, this is why,” Rambo wrote on Twitter.

Rambo was not available for further comment Thursday, but he told the Long Beach Press-Telegram that he found the question offensive.

Matt Fischer, who teaches the course, told the newspaper that the take-home final exam was designed to encourage his students to investigate the best possible answer to each question.

Fischer has worked as a part-time lecturer at Cal State Long Beach for 16 years and has taught health and science classes at Los Angeles Unified School District campuses for 28 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

“Wasn’t meant to be racist in the least,” Fischer said. “I’m sorry they were so offended by it.”

Fischer did not respond to an email seeking further comment Thursday.

The university launched an investigation after the tweet was brought to the attention of campus officials, said Jeff Bliss, a university spokesman.

“The campus takes these allegations seriously,” Bliss said. “We will provide additional information when we have reached a resolution.”


Twitter: @Hannahnfry