HomeAsian AmericansAsian American Students On the Frontlines for Ethnic Studies Program at Harvard

Asian American Students On the Frontlines for Ethnic Studies Program at Harvard

Photo by: Jemielniak Dariusz

The departure of two professors specializing in Asian American Studies at Harvard has prompted undergraduates to demand an official Ethnic Studies program.

Three different student and alumni groups, the Harvard Ethnic Studies Coalition, the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance, and the Coalition For A Diverse Harvard, have already sent letters to the President of Harvard University, Dr. Lawrence Bacow, condemning the impending departure of Associate Professor of Education Natasha K. Warikoo and Assistant Professor of History Genevieve A. Clutario. While Clutario’s leave is due to her acceptance in a position at Wellesley College, the University in November decided not to put Dr. Warikoo up for tenure causing her departure.

According to the Harvard Crimson, in one letter, the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance state that “In addition to teaching oversubscribed classes, they stretch themselves as advisors for too many students and as members of multiple committees addressing the need for Asian American Studies and for the greater inclusion of Asian Americans at Harvard,”.

The board further questions in their letter “why Harvard’s vaunted promise of diversity for the benefit of all students seems to exclude the faculty and academic programs in Ethnic Studies,”

Led by Sally Chen ‘19, an organization has been created called the Ethnic Studies Coalition. The hope through its creation is to fight for a program that supports and encourages the professional development of its professors.

This is not the first time Ethnic Studies is being fought for on campus. Since the 1970’s over twelve formal proposals  have been written addressing the need for an Ethnic Studies Program. However, no progress has been made, even with a personal letter written to the President himself in 2018 addressing the possible creation of a home for ethnic studies in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

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