Brandeis University is a research and liberal arts university located just west of Massachusetts, and currently serves an undergraduate student body of 3,600 young scholars. 12.7% of enrolled students are Asian American.
Earlier this year, Brandeis invited me to give the keynote address for their ECAASU campus tour. Before travelling to the school, I was informed by student organizers that students were interested in implementing an Asian American Studies program at the school. So, I decided to tailor my talk towards the need for more Asian American studies at our nation’s colleges and universities. Later after the workshops were done, the students pulled me aside to talk about what they might do to start a campaign around this issue, and I was deeply inspired by their passion and energy.
In an op-ed published last month in the school paper, Brandeis student Hin Hon (Jamie) Wong asked: “Why aren’t we learning about ourselves and our own collective past?”
Now, the Asian American students of Brandeis have mobilized with the creation of the Brandeis Asian American Task Force. Earlier this week, BAATF released a letter to their school’s administration, demanding a commitment to implement Asian American Studies at the school.
The students write:
Yes, yes, and yes. I wrote last month that it was time to step the fuck up for Asian American Studies, and this is exactly the kind of stuff I was talking about.
Before publishing their open letter, Brandeis’ Asian American Studies conducted a poll of the school’s students, and they found overwhelming support for an Asian American Studies program. Two-thirds of polled students said they would be interested in taking an introductory course in Asian American Studies; one-third said they would be interested in minoring in Asian American Studies if such a degree were offered. 84% expressed support for an Asian American student community centre, which has been shown to be integral for promoting the mental health and community ties of Asian American students.
The demands from Brandeis’ Asian American students are simple: 1) create an Asian American Studies Program, and 2) create a mechanism for hiring Asian American Studies faculty to participate in it. Students have given the administration of Brandeis University until December 9th to respond to their demands.
As that deadline looms, Brandeis University’s students need us to help them in this fight. Share their open letter to your social network. Sign this petition (even if you’re not a Brandeis student). Let Brandeis and every other leader of every other college and university know that our community will not be silent and complacent on the absence of Asian American studies programs at most of these schools.
Why? Because #WeNeedAAPIStudies. We deserve to know our history.
Read More: A Call for Asian American Studies (The Brandeis Hoot)
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