Thursday, February 9, 2023

Students work to start Asian American studies program

October 17, 2000

A group of students is hoping to implement an Asian American studies program at MSU.

Soh Suzuki, a studio art senior and Asian Pacific American minority aide in Snyder and Phillips halls, has been acting as a liaison between APA students and faculty and staff members. He said they are currently discussing the creation of the program.

“We’re here to talk about what we can do to promote classes that are offered currently,” Suzuki said at a meeting at the Multicultural Center in the Union on Monday evening. “We want our own specialization in Asian American studies. The Native Americans and Chicanos have one now, so we’re the only ones without an actual program.”

The program is in its beginning stages. Suzuki and other students have been working with Multicultural Center director Maggie Chen-Hernandez and Andrea Louie, an assistant professor of anthropology.

Zinnia Velez, an apparel and textile design senior, is one student supporting the program. She said a specialization focusing on Asian and Pacific Americans is important in increasing awareness of APA issues.

“If the studies program is created, those people would have the opportunity to know more about cultures in the Asian community,” Velez said.

Suzuki named a couple key points that he hopes will be addressed in the quest to create the studies program, including the number of APA faculty members teaching courses in Asian American culture.

“We need classes focused on Asian American issues, like Asian American sociology, and we need more APA faculty teaching Asian American courses,” he said. “The university has many APA faculty members, but they’re not in the right areas. When you think about it, there’s 1,800 APA students and only two professors teaching APA classes.”

Suzuki also emphasized the difference between classes focusing on Asian and APA cultures.

“Many students don’t know the difference between Asian Studies and Asian American studies. Asian studies deal with what’s going on over there, but we need studies about Asians in the U.S.,” he said.

Two non-credit night classes in Korean and Tagalog, a Filipino language, were offered last year.

The university currently offers credit in Chinese and Japanese language courses. Romeo Salvani, a telecommunication junior and co-president of the Asian Pacific American Student Organization, said he hopes to see the incorporation of Asian languages into the specialization.

“Our main goal is just to keep the excitement going so we can keep this moving,” he said.

For more information, contact Suzuki at (517) 355-4882 or by e-mail at susukiso@msu.edu.

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