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New course “The Asian American Experience” to be offered next semester

By Hannah Schuster

Section: News

April 8, 2016

With course registration for next semester open, students can select a new class on Asian American history. The Brandeis Asian American Task Force (BAATF) demanded Brandeis offer this class and create a new department on Asian American and Pacific Islander studies in a campaign last semester.

There is no cap on enrollment for this course, and as of Thursday (the second day of course registration), there were 15 students enrolled. The Asian American Experience is “the first chance in many years for Brandeis students to have a glimpse of the rich, complex and diverse field of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Students,” BAATF president Hin Hon (Jamie) Wong ’17 wrote to The Brandeis Hoot. “It is distinctly empowering for AAPI students and educational for all.”

The course will tackle immigration, settlement and family among other topics, according to the course description. Students will study “history, literature, personal essays, films and other popular media sources,” and material will stretch from the mid-1800s to present day. “The Asian American Experience” is listed as an American Studies course, but cross listed in South Asian Studies and International and Global Studies.

There was a course by the same name offered on an every-other-year schedule in the past. However, it has not been offered since 2011. Next semester’s course “is coming back under the same name,” but will be a different class with a different professor, said Wong.

In December, the Brandeis Asian American Task Force released a letter and list of demands calling for Brandeis to create an Asian American Studies Department with a major and minor, offer an introductory course every fall semester beginning Fall 2016, hire three tenure-track professors and a post-doctoral fellow for the department and maintain a transparent relationship with BAATF.

BAATF shared their demands across social media platforms, met with administrators and held a “Day of Action” outside the Bernstein-Marcus administration building which approximately 60 students attended. Later that month, the university created a committee to examine creation of an Asian American Pacific Islanders minor within the School of Arts and Sciences, according to a Dec. 22 email from Interim President Lisa Lynch.

“In response to a presentation made to the faculty and meetings with the dean of Arts and Sciences and the provost, this committee has been established to examine and make recommendations on the development of courses, programming and a minor in Asian American Pacific Islander studies,” wrote Lynch. Members of the committee and BAATF have been involved with instituting the new class.

BAATF is holding a Town Hall at 9 p.m. on Monday, April 11 to discuss the course and an Asian American Pacific Islander Studies minor.

“We talk frequently of the importance of social justice, student activism and seeking truth even unto its innermost parts,” reads the letter BAATF sent to administrators with the list of demands. “However, Brandeis students — particularly Asian American Brandeis students — currently have no access to the rich and unquestionably important history of Asian Americans.”

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