Students at two East Coast universities are demanding a curriculum that reflects their communities and an increasingly diverse country.
The Crimson reports that the Ethnic Studies Coalition, lead by founder and Harvard senior Juhwan Seo, is calling on Harvard to establish a national hub for ethnic studies.
According to the group’s petition, “this center would support the study of race and ethnicity among Harvard’s 12 schools, including a robust undergraduate and graduate ethnic studies program within [the Faculty of Arts and Sciences], which has been the subject of 12 community-wide petitions in 45 years.”
The petition gained traction after a report by the Presidential Task Force for Inclusion and Belonging failed to specifically call for an ethnic studies program or center.
At the University of North Carolina, where Asian Americans make up 16 percent of the class of 2021, the Daily Tar Heel reports the Asian American and Pacific Islander Working Group is demanding courses on Asian American and Pacific Islander history and issues impacting their diverse communities.
“Next semester, I think (there’ll be) one or two courses that teach Asian American topics. Just one or two, for 16 percent of an undergraduate population,” said Working Group member David Choi. “Right now, Asian Americans have close to nothing,”
English professor Jennifer Ho is lending her support to the students.
“When you start talking about White students and underrepresented minorities, right, that’s great, but you’re actually completely leaving out of that equation Asian American students,” Ho said.
At Harvard, the Presidential Task Force is dismissing the call for a national ethnic studies center as an Arts and Sciences issues and says its mission is to come up with university-wide initiatives.
Seo counters he sees the center as something supported by all 12 of Harvard’s schools.
“I think it’s actually irresponsible for Harvard to train its students without giving them education and resources, knowledge and research on race and ethnicity,” Seo said.
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