After 50 Years, It Is Time for AAAS at Stanford to Become a Department

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After 50 Years, It Is Time for AAAS at Stanford to Become a Department

Dear Supporter,

The Stanford Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) and Black Student Union (BSU) thank you for adding your signature to our petition in support of the departmentalization of African and African American Studies (AAAS)! The BGSA just released a statement in the Stanford Daily in response to the insufficient solutions that Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne has announced to address anti-Black racism campus. In an email on July 1, 2020, President Tessier-Lavigne shared news about Stanford’s new plan to “provide 10 funded billets for 10 new faculty hires...for eminent scholars and researchers who are leaders in the study of the impact of race in America.” This initiative decenters Blackness and fails to acknowledge the global implications of racism. 

With regard to AAAS, President Tessier-Lavigne announced that the University would conduct a “self-study” to determine whether or not the needs of AAAS would be better served by departmentalization. This study would be led by Provost Drell and Dean Satz, the very same people who have refused to support countless proposals for a cluster hire in African American Studies and the departmentalization of the program. There is no timetable for this self-study. It will occur, according to President Tessier-Lavigne, once a new director for the King Institute is in place, which may not be until three years from now. 

We do not need a “self-study” to determine if AAAS should be a department. 

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Email President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell and tell them you won’t donate to the University until African & African American Studies is a department. You can write your own email, or you can use our template below. Please make sure to bcc BGSA Board Member Matt Randolph as indicated in the template. 
  2. Share BGSA’s response to the Stanford administration in The Stanford Daily on social media. 
  3. Circulate the petition for AAAS departmentalization.

We cannot wait. Stanford must step up, join its peer institutions who have departments in Black Studies, and be on the right side of history. As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” 

We can’t win this fight without you, and we are so grateful for your solidarity. 


The Black Graduate Students Association of Stanford University 


Suggested Template for Demanding the Departmentalization of AAAS


CC: , 


Subject:  After 50 Years, It’s Time for AAAS to Become a Department

Dear President Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Drell,

Stanford’s new plan to offer academic positions to scholars engaging with the “Impacts of Race in America” is an insufficient solution to addressing anti-Black racism on Stanford’s campus and in its curriculum. I urge you to strongly consider student and faculty demands for the departmentalization of African and African American Studies (AAAS).

We do not need a “self-study” to determine if AAAS should be a department. The time is now. Stanford must put itself on the right side of history and be a leader in the fight for racial progress. 

I refuse to make donations to the University until Stanford commits to departmentalizing its program in African and African American Studies and providing this department with the dedicated faculty and resources it needs to thrive. 



(Your Name)

Concerned Students, Faculty, Alumni and Affiliates of Stanford University
1 year ago