It looks like that Harvard University isn’t the only Ivy League university having problems offering a breadth or depth of courses Asian-American courses and studies. The Yale Daily News reports (2/28/08), “Task Force seeks to widen Asian-American courses“:
“Asian-American students make up the largest minority on campus. But many feel their culture is a bit underrepresented in the Blue Book. So this academic year, students have made efforts to bolster the Asian-American Studies Task Force, to push for an increase in courses addressing Asian-American issues and to encourage an increase in the number of Asian-American faculty…By all accounts, the number of courses offered this year dealing significantly with Asian-American studies can be counted on one hand, although counts provided by faculty and students differed… Several faculty members acknowledged that more needs to be done to incorporate Asian-American studies into the Yale curriculum. Faculty members have worked with students on the issue, but there are no current systematic faculty initiatives to bolster the field… “Yale certainly has a long way to go,” said professor Stephen Pitti, director of the Ethnicity, Race and Migration major. “There’s considerable work to be done in broadening the course offerings to make them representative of fields that really do matter.” Pitti lauded students for their efforts and said student support for wider offerings is “absolutely critical” to expansion of Asian-American studies at Yale. Although Asian-American studies is not an official concentration, some ER&M majors have focused in Asian-American studies in the past. “Students are demanding something that they ought to be demanding,” Pitti said… Asian-Americans currently make up 14.9 percent of non-international undergraduates this academic year, making them the largest minority group on campus, according to figures compiled by the Yale Office of Institutional Research… Meanwhile students have come up with their own ways to compensate. By the end of the academic year, students say they expect the Asian-American Studies Task Force to host five separate faculty events, bringing both Yale and outside professors to speak on important Asian-American issues.Task Force members said they also hope to stoke interest among the general student body through these activities.”
As noted in the article, Yale University is pretty well known for its strong liberal arts tradition. Whether or not every university (Ivy League or not) should have an Asian-American Studies program or major is of course up to each university. However, universities with a strong major such as Yale’s “Ethnicity, Race and Migration,” one wonders why Yale, as well as Harvard and other similar universities don’t have a better commitment to Asian-American issues. I don’t think a university’s Asian-American population necessarily mandates such studies (i.e. MIT is about 25% Asian-American, but I don’t think it’s MIT’s mission to offer Asian-American Studies major, though the do offer some classes in this field).