Asian American major needed

Asian American students should be able to major in their own cultural studies.

Nine percent of the University’s undergraduate population identifies as Asian or Pacific Islander, 5 percent identify as black, 2 percent identify as American Indian and 2 percent as Chicano or Latino. Yet Asians – a group that makes up the largest student minority population on campus – are the only one of these groups that does not have a major for the study of its culture at the University.

Since 1998 many members of the University community have organized and pushed for the creation of an Asian American studies department. Those efforts saw fruition in 2003 when the Board of Regents established an Asian American studies minor and incorporated the department the following year.

Still, the Asian American studies department does not have any of its own faculty members, many courses, much funding or a major. The lack of a substantial Asian American department is simply unacceptable and a disservice to the Asian American citizens of Minnesota.

According to the 2000 U.S. census, the Twin Cities has the highest concentration of Asian Americans in the interior of the United States. Additionally, Minnesota has the highest percentage of Korean adoptees in the country. Certainly, with such a large presence in the state, Minnesota Asian Americans deserve to be served by their University.

Having an Asian American major, and ethnic studies in general, is important not only because universities should reflect the growing diversity of the United States, but also because inclusive programs teach everyone that many different racial and ethnic groups have made significant and indelible contributions to the United States. For Asian Americans, specifically having a major would empower Asian students by giving them the opportunity to learn about themselves, their culture and their history in the world and the United States.

For a group that constitutes an amazingly wide variety of identities, ethnicities and cultures on campus and in the world, this is very little to ask.