The subjects included the addition of Asian-American studies coursework into the College curriculum, multiculturalism, and the experience of Asians at the University. The forum was sponsored by Students for Asian Affairs, a campus group established two years ago that has been pushing these and other issues since its inception. Professors from the English, Oriental Studies and American Civilization Departments, among others, and representatives of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of University Life all came to participate in an informal dialogue with students. But last night's meeting was just part of what has been a "landmark" year for Asian-American issues at the University, according to SAA Chairperson Phan Lam. A course on Asians in America was introduced on a temporary basis this semester, and two more classes -- one on literature and one on politics -- will be offered next semester. Also, a committee commissioned last spring by former SAS Dean Hugo Sonnenschein to study the inclusion of Asian American studies into the curriculum began meeting this semester. And according to Winnie Lam, editor of SAA's newsletter, awareness of Asian issues has grown on campus. "This year, faculty are becoming more aware of who we are," said Lam, a College sophomore. Assistant Dean for Advising Joseph Sun said SAA is a well-organized group that has the unity a student group needs to fight for curriculum changes. "It takes a lot of work and energy," said Sun. "[SAA] has the momentum. Its only agenda is student concerns." But in spite of the advances it has made, SAA members said they still have many objectives left to meet. The classes being introduced next semester, Asian-American Literature and Asian-American Perspectives on Government Policy, will not be added as a permanent part of the arts and sciences curriculum, but instead will be offered through the College of General Studies. According to American Civilization Chairperson Murray Murphey, who heads the committee, the College does not have professors who can teach Asian-American studies. "The standard way [to add courses] is to get members of the standing faculty to teach them," Murphey said. "But since there aren't many Asian Americans on the faculty, we're trying this way." The Asians in America course is also taught by a visiting faculty member, Bryn Mawr Professor Jean Wu, and although she has agreed to teach the course again next year, Murphey said he cannot guarantee that it would remain in the Am Civ curriculum. The SAA's ultimate goal, according to Chairperson Lam, is to institute a program in Asian-American Studies, similar to the ones offered at Harvard and Brown universities, and eventually to offer a major in that area. She added that teaching Asian-American studies is just one way the University can diversify its academic offerings. "We're all working toward this multicultural curriculum," said Lam, a College senior.Comments powered by Disqus
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