After nearly two years of debate, an Asian-American minor was officially approved Monday by Marisa Kelly, provost and vice president for educational affairs.
The Committee for Inclusive Education, an on-campus group that promotes cross-cultural education, launched a campaign along with the Asian-American Alliance more than a year ago to include a minor program focusing on Asian-American history in the college curriculum. The movement included photo campaigns and educational workshops to outline the importance of having this program in the curriculum.
Despite this milestone, the process is still not complete. Leslie Lewis, dean of humanities and sciences, said the Asian-American Studies program still needs to be approved by the Humanities and Sciences curriculum committee, the Humanities and Science faculty, the Academic Policies Committee and ultimately the State Education Department.
Lewis said she does not anticipate any obstacles in these final steps.
“[It] is moving along through the process, and I foresee no problem,” Lewis said.
If the process goes according to schedule, the minor will be approved for Fall 2013.
Asma Barlas, professor and program director for the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity, said acquiring an Asian-American studies program has been a goal for the center, but they faced a roadblock because of the lack of professors to teach the program.
“The center is charged with developing an [African, Latino, Asian, Native American] ALANA-focused curriculum, and, so far, it was lacking a minor in Asian-American Studies,” Barlas said. “This is mostly because, until rather recently, there weren’t any faculty who were teaching courses in this area, and one needs to have enough courses before one can develop a minor.”
This proposal includes a new faculty hire to solve this problem.
Senior Kristiana Reyes, one of the key members of the movement, said she is pleased with the decision, and as a result, she feels empowered and proud of her identity.
“I felt really empowered that I can actually change things as a woman, as a student, as an Asian-American woman,” Reyes said. “I felt an overwhelming sense of my agency and how powerful I am as an individual.”
Reyes said the proposal’s approval is a testament to the power of collective activism among students.
The minor gained momentum last year, with the support of student organizations and faculty. The Committee for Inclusive Education launched a photo campaign, “We are fighting for an Asian-American Studies program,” to raise awareness on campus.
Through their efforts, they successfully gained the support of the Provost for the minor last semester on March 28.