Oriental Studies Department faculty will meet today with student leaders to discuss concerns that the department's name is ethnocentric and derogatory to Asians. Student sentiment against the department has been rising since last semester, as a broad spectrum of students have banded together to fight against the name. They say the word "oriental" evokes stereotypical images of an exotic and mysterious culture. Oriental Studies Department Chairperson Ludo Rocher said yesterday that today's meeting is intended to provide a dialogue between vocal students and faculty. He said School of Arts and Sciences Dean Hugo Sonnenschein suggested the meeting. The meeting today will be the students' first with department faculty. Last semester, several students met with Rocher about their concerns. Sonnenschein said last month that both the students and the faculty must recognize each others positions for an effective dialogue. Sonnenschein and Rocher said that the Oriental Studies department has gained an international intellectual identity under its current name and reestablishing the department under a new name would be difficult. "In the fifties there used to be Negro Studies programs in some places," Shu said. "Even at this place Negro Studies doesn't exist anymore." Sonnenschein said how the students feel about the name is "equally important" to how the department feels. Rocher said the preliminary contact in today's meeting may result in a committee of students and faculty which will discuss the options for the department's name. Students have suggested several names including Asian Studies, Asian and African Studies, and East Asian and North African Studies for the department, which offers courses on East Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. The movement to change the department's name has received support from, among other groups, the Asian-American Student Alliance, the Progressive Student Alliance and the UMC. Last night, the Undergraduate Assembly passed a unanimously approved a resolution which asked the department to choose a new name. And the issue is on the agenda for the University Council Steering Committee meeting. UA member Dan Singer, who has been involved in the issue, called the meeting today "a very positive preliminary step." Singer said that SAS faculty must take the initiative if the department's name is to change. He said several SAS faculty have said they support the students.Comments powered by Disqus
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