Establish Asian American Studies at Williams College

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The petition is open again—the fight lives:

Recently, we presented a list of demands to the administration. These demands include the hiring of four Asian American(ist) professors over the next five years, and the establishment of an Asian American Studies program at the end of this five-year period. Currently there is only ONE tenured Asian Americanist on campus (with the recent additions of one visiting professor, and one untenured professor on the tenure-track). 

The administration refused to agree to any of our demands; in response, we are protesting their decision to ignore the safety, health and education of their Asian American students, as well as the wider student body.

Two years ago, we started this petition in hopes of pushing our university representatives to establish a space for us. Today, we continue the long tradition of students of color demanding the intellectual and political rights they have been denied. Until Williams establishes the institutional resources for which Asian American students are asking, we are NOT all Williams—we can’t afford to be, trapped as we are as mere faces on the College’s diversity pamphlets, serving cultural commodities to the community at large, with no institutionalized academic, political, cultural space of our own. 

From the 2015-16 campaign:

We, as Asian American students on this campus, have asked -- for 27 years -- nicely, urgently, passionately, and above all, reasonably, to see ourselves represented in our curriculum. We have faced the burdens of erasure, dehumanization, and tokenization: at the forefront in perpetuating these injustices is what we see as a crucial element of institutional racism. Our voices and our bodies continue to be anthologized and pathologized for us, in every part of our daily lives: the media, popular culture, and, most importantly, the academic and intellectual spaces in which we attempt our identity development.

The Model Minority myth, Orientalism, and Yellow Peril have no place at Williams College, but the reality of the matter is that they will continue to exist unless all students are offered the opportunity to study the rich, varied, and often painful histories of Asian America.

Next academic year, we will only have ONE tenured Asian Americanist, Prof. Dorothy Wang, and ONE Asian American course in the spring (none in the fall). We ask that you stand with us in support of our fight to end a 27-year battle for an Asian American Studies program at Williams College. Our goal is to create a FULL TIME tenure-track line for an Asian Americanist to be filled by the end of the 2016-17 year. With luck, we will not have to wait another 27 years to see an Asian American Studies concentration established.

As members of the College, we deserve an intellectual space to call our own. We deserve to matter, and we hope you agree.

[Created in 2016 by Suiyi Tang, Asian American Studies Coordinator, on behalf of AASiA]