MISSION STATEMENT

Williams College needs to establish Asian American Studies (AAS):

  • To provide a well-rounded education to its students about all peoples and movements that have shaped American history
  • To complete our American Studies department with critical knowledges and historical context that Asian American Studies provides to our curriculum
  • To empower all students by providing an education that will naturally boost the diversity of its faculty

In more concrete terms, there has been a persistent and demonstrated need for an Asian American Studies program:

  • For nearly three decades, students have protested and advocated for an Asian American Studies program. Student organizers for AAS have always gone through the proper channels as "A Brief History" will show. Instead of being rewarded for this patience and respect, all proposals for Asian American Studies submitted to the proper channels over the past thirty years have been rejected by the school, barring the current proposal in the works.
  • A 2012 External Review of our American Studies department conducted by professors from University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, University of Michigan, and University of Washington unanimously found the absence of an Asian American Studies to be "glaring" and "problematic." See SY 2012-13.
  • Enrollment for Asian American Studies courses has been consistently strong, and their courses are often overenrolled, sometimes double-enrolled (eg. Professor Scott Wong's "Asian American History" course began at enrollment of 25, but was changed to 50 after a flurry of sign-ups).

Lastly, while we believe educational integrity is a FAR better reason to establish Asian American Studies than representation, we would like to share Williams' own words from its 2017 Self-Study (see here for full report):

  • “First, diversity is necessary for being on the cutting edge of academic knowledge…" (68-69).
  • "Second, with greater racial, ethnic and gender diversity in the faculty, we can offer our students more role models in all fields" (68-69).
  • "Third, diversifying the faculty is not just a matter of broadening perspectives for students; the benefits extend to the entire college community" (68-69).
  • "Fourth, Williams aims to make a contribution to the world through the students we educate and the work of our faculty…Williams has a crucial role to play as a leader in bringing about change" (68-69).
  • "Finally, it’s important that faculty diversity keep pace with student diversity” (68-69); to date, Williams College is 17% Asian/Asian American, while its faculty ranges around 10% (and 5-6% in humanities/arts).

The establishment of Asian American Studies to complete our education would boost our faculty's representation as a natural and positive by-product. In Williams College's own words, a diverse faculty will benefit the entirety of the student body. As long as Williams College continues to use diversity to recruit more talent and students to its campus, it should also support to the diverse students already on campus.

Therefore, we urge Williams College to publicly commit to the establishment of Asian American Studies, to add & replace necessary professor-lines for boosting Asian American FTE allocation, and to take tangible action over three-decades worth of "support."

Though we have generated much support and progress, it will be harder than ever before to establish an Asian American Studies program, especially given that Williams College is in a no-growth period until 2025. Adding necessary professor-lines for boosting Asian American Studies FTE allocation will be a struggle. We will have to advocate on behalf of Asian American Studies even more strongly than ever before; the 2018-2019 school year, and the study of the CPC working group, will be critical for determining the future of Asian American Studies at Williams College.