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Asian-American Lit. Post Approved

By Andrew K. Mandel, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER

Addressing the demand for ethnic studies at Harvard, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) announced the creation of a new position in the English Department on Friday: a junior Faculty member devoted to the study of Asian-American literature.

Professor of Chinese Literature Leo O. Lee, chair of the Committee on Ethnic Studies, called the move an "important step" for the future of his committee.

"Harvard does not have enough regular Faculty appointments related to ethnic studies," he said.

To fund the position, FAS has converted one of the Ethnic Studies Committee's three semester-long visiting positions to the junior Faculty post. The Committee will still administer two visiting professorships every term.

"This will provide some of the continuity that even the most distinguished visiting Faculty are not able to give," said Elizabeth Doherty, assistant dean for academic planning. "This seems like a creative and effective way of addressing the demand for more courses and Faculty in Ethnic Studies."

Lee said he hopes the new position is only the start of the restructuring of Ethnic Studies at the College.

Two pages in the 1997-98 Courses of Instruction catalog-consisting of 46 non-bracketed classes-are devoted to "courses related to themes and issues of ethnicity and race."

The current offering are "too amorphous," Lee said. "It's window dressing."

Instead, Lee proposes to hire more Faculty who specialize in multi cultural issues.

"We need more courses taught by people genuinely researching ethnic studies," he said.

Many students said they agree with Lee.

Michael Hsu '98-who worked with the Harvard Foundation's academic affairs committee last year-calls the new position a "step in the right direction," but alone only "a small inkling of a step."

"We need an undergraduate concentration with a cohesive curriculum and advising," he said.

Tin-Ming L. Hsu '00 addresses the lack of more substantial University attention to ethnic studies every Monday evening, leading a weekly discussion group through the Asian American Association (AAA) "to demonstrate the interest and scholarship in [Asian-American issues] in the absence of an ethnic studies department."

Tin-Ming Hsu said that she hopes the University will reaffirm the importance of multi cultural studies.

"I would be extremely concerned if [Harvard] felt that the inclusion of one token representative would sufficiently cover the need for increased attention toward Ethnic Studies and/or Asian American Studies," she said.

Jorge I. Dominguez, former chair of the Committee on Ethnic Studies, said the creation of the new position is consistent with the Faculty's dedication to ethnic studies.

"There are, to be sure, many previous regular Faculty appointments of professors who teach about various aspects of ethnicity in the United States," Dominguez said. "Nonetheless, [FAS] will certainly benefit from the Dean's decision to increase for yet one more time the teaching resources to the study of ethnicity."

Other said they believe that congratulations are not yet in order.

"The appointments in Asian-American literature is long overdue and until we see more appointments in areas such as Latino and Native American studies, there shouldn't be any patting of backs quite yet," said Mina K. Park '98, a member of the Ethnic Studies Action Committee.

And Gonzalo C. Martinez '98, president of Raza-the undergraduate Mexican-American/Chicano student organization-agreed, saying that he believes Harvard is neglecting Chicano studies.

"[Latinos] are supposed to be the largest minority group within the U.S. come the 21st century, yet our presence has been all but ignored by the Harvard administration," he said. "Only a weak commitment to ethnic studies would attempt to appease one student group by ignoring another."

What's Next?

Lee said he would eventually like to see two floating academic chair positions-an undergraduate concentration and a graduate minor program-to increase the presence of ethnic studies on campus.

But Lee said that an ethnic studies department will not emerge any time soon because a majority of the Faculty does not support it.

At the same time, he added that a "California model" of multicultural studies-which advocates formal centers and departments in fields including Asian-American and Chicano studies-may not be the best option for the University.

"A lot of people believe that without a department you have no power," Lee said. "I think we should have our intellectual agenda established first."

While he said "students should continue to exert pressure," Lee also said he believes that measures such as hunger strikes and sit-ins at other Ivies "waste time."

"I occupied a building myself once," Lee recalled. "But what did we really get accomplished?"

Lee said he hopes instead to "light up the fire...for intellectual combustion."

Supporting "a more international conception of ethnic studies that links American domestic discourse with a changing international situation," Lee said he seeks to "heighten awareness," and is currently fundraising for the Committee.

Lee said he has organized a symposium titled "The Future of Ethnic Studies: New Directions in Curriculum, Research and Theory" on Oct. 24 to reexamine Ethnic Studies at Harvard.

Lamelle D. Rawlins '99, president of the Undergraduate Council, said she has high hopes for the future of ethnic studies.

"The establishment of an Ethnic Studies department would be a tangible sign of Harvard's commitment to diversity," Rawlins said. "In time, Harvard will embrace ethnic studies.

Two pages in the 1997-98 Courses of Instruction catalog-consisting of 46 non-bracketed classes-are devoted to "courses related to themes and issues of ethnicity and race."

The current offering are "too amorphous," Lee said. "It's window dressing."

Instead, Lee proposes to hire more Faculty who specialize in multi cultural issues.

"We need more courses taught by people genuinely researching ethnic studies," he said.

Many students said they agree with Lee.

Michael Hsu '98-who worked with the Harvard Foundation's academic affairs committee last year-calls the new position a "step in the right direction," but alone only "a small inkling of a step."

"We need an undergraduate concentration with a cohesive curriculum and advising," he said.

Tin-Ming L. Hsu '00 addresses the lack of more substantial University attention to ethnic studies every Monday evening, leading a weekly discussion group through the Asian American Association (AAA) "to demonstrate the interest and scholarship in [Asian-American issues] in the absence of an ethnic studies department."

Tin-Ming Hsu said that she hopes the University will reaffirm the importance of multi cultural studies.

"I would be extremely concerned if [Harvard] felt that the inclusion of one token representative would sufficiently cover the need for increased attention toward Ethnic Studies and/or Asian American Studies," she said.

Jorge I. Dominguez, former chair of the Committee on Ethnic Studies, said the creation of the new position is consistent with the Faculty's dedication to ethnic studies.

"There are, to be sure, many previous regular Faculty appointments of professors who teach about various aspects of ethnicity in the United States," Dominguez said. "Nonetheless, [FAS] will certainly benefit from the Dean's decision to increase for yet one more time the teaching resources to the study of ethnicity."

Other said they believe that congratulations are not yet in order.

"The appointments in Asian-American literature is long overdue and until we see more appointments in areas such as Latino and Native American studies, there shouldn't be any patting of backs quite yet," said Mina K. Park '98, a member of the Ethnic Studies Action Committee.

And Gonzalo C. Martinez '98, president of Raza-the undergraduate Mexican-American/Chicano student organization-agreed, saying that he believes Harvard is neglecting Chicano studies.

"[Latinos] are supposed to be the largest minority group within the U.S. come the 21st century, yet our presence has been all but ignored by the Harvard administration," he said. "Only a weak commitment to ethnic studies would attempt to appease one student group by ignoring another."

What's Next?

Lee said he would eventually like to see two floating academic chair positions-an undergraduate concentration and a graduate minor program-to increase the presence of ethnic studies on campus.

But Lee said that an ethnic studies department will not emerge any time soon because a majority of the Faculty does not support it.

At the same time, he added that a "California model" of multicultural studies-which advocates formal centers and departments in fields including Asian-American and Chicano studies-may not be the best option for the University.

"A lot of people believe that without a department you have no power," Lee said. "I think we should have our intellectual agenda established first."

While he said "students should continue to exert pressure," Lee also said he believes that measures such as hunger strikes and sit-ins at other Ivies "waste time."

"I occupied a building myself once," Lee recalled. "But what did we really get accomplished?"

Lee said he hopes instead to "light up the fire...for intellectual combustion."

Supporting "a more international conception of ethnic studies that links American domestic discourse with a changing international situation," Lee said he seeks to "heighten awareness," and is currently fundraising for the Committee.

Lee said he has organized a symposium titled "The Future of Ethnic Studies: New Directions in Curriculum, Research and Theory" on Oct. 24 to reexamine Ethnic Studies at Harvard.

Lamelle D. Rawlins '99, president of the Undergraduate Council, said she has high hopes for the future of ethnic studies.

"The establishment of an Ethnic Studies department would be a tangible sign of Harvard's commitment to diversity," Rawlins said. "In time, Harvard will embrace ethnic studies.

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