30 Years in the Making, Asian American Studies Still Not Academic Program

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    30 Years in the Making, Asian American Studies Still Not Academic Program

    Still relegated to student forums, AASC is fighting to get a course cluster for Asian American Studies.

    In the spring of 1985, Wesleyan, as well as several other colleges and universities including Stanford, Harvard, and Smith, participated in the “National Network of Asian and Pacific Women Project” with the support of the U.S. Department of Education. On Wesleyan’s campus, the project led to a student-taught course titled “Asian American Women: Exploring the Model Minority Myth.”

    A year later, Suk Kim ’89, Carl Hum ’89, and Won Sin ’87 began promoting an additional student forum called “History and Present Conditions of Asian Americans” for the following fall of 1987. By 1995, Asian American students had submitted a full proposal for a formal Asian American Studies program at the University, which was never brought to fruition.

    Now, over 20 years later, Wesleyan’s Asian American Student Collective (AASC) is again calling for Asian American Studies to be included in the University curriculum. Specifically, they are requesting a dedicated line within American Studies and a course cluster to be listed on WesMaps. The proposed line would mean a secured position for a faculty member committed to teaching Asian American Studies within the American Studies major and department. The cluster would group together courses that touch on relevant Asian American material, making them part of a cohesive field of study and more readily visible and accessible to students and faculty.

    Sarah Chen Small ’18, an AASC board member, spoke to the importance of this effort to expand the American Studies curriculum and the motivations behind it.

    “I think now more than ever, with this election, the rhetoric that’s been going on, and all the hate speech on campus, that it’s really important for us to integrate [Asian American Studies] into American Studies, so that students…are exposed to the fact that Asian Americans are a part of American history and [shouldn’t be] understood solely in their relation to Asia, the continent itself,” Small said.

    Wesleyan currently houses a College of East Asian Studies (CEAS), but Small explained why Asian American Studies is completely different and how the assumption that the CEAS should be enough for Asian American Students on campus perpetuates stereotypes about the community as a whole.


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