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Students get behind the push for more AAS

SAASEI members at their 30th reunion's mini-AASA event, recounting how the Asian American community at Stanford affected their time in college...and far beyond.

It's refreshing to see the "younger generation" get involved. This opinion piece, from SAPAAC members Victoria Yee ‘13 and Tina Hang ‘12, just got published in the Stanford Daily: From the community | Stanford should get serious about building Asian American Studies.

And just a few days ago, this was published in the NYT by Dartmouth students: The Fight for Asian American Studies. The subtitle says it all: "After a year that put a spotlight on anti-Asian racism, students around the country have been petitioning their schools to create curriculums that reflect the moment."

From the outside, it may seem like not much is happening. For me, a '91 grad, it felt like AAS had stood still at Stanford for 30 years. Obviously, this is not fair to the faculty (looking at you Jeanne Tsai), students, and administrators who have been fighting the good fight. It's kind of like saying soccer is boring because the score is so low or not seeing all the real activity underwater in water polo.

As I got more involved with SAASEI, I learned about all the effort that's going on, like the Faculty Framework Task Force on Race Studies at Stanford. Several of us in SAASEI had the privilege of presenting our views to the Dean of the school of Humanities & Sciences, Debra Satz, in December 2021. We tried to not only engage from a logical point of view, presenting the rationale for beefing up AAS as the Stanford Daily opinion piece so eloquently lays out, but we also attempted to show the emotional reason why so many of us are personally invested in this initiative. We shared this video of some of the testimonials given by attendees of the AASA mini-reunion.

I'm happy to report that Dean Satz was enthusiastically supportive. Professor Gordon Chang was kind enough to share his views of the meeting: "Dear Alums, My sense is that you all made a deep, positive impression on the Dean and the OOD folks. Thank you for your passion and advocacy. "

Like the authors of the Stanford piece, many of us are frustrated that Stanford has not "stepped up to the plate" to fund AAS: "It is clear that Stanford drastically underfunds AAS. With an endowment of $41.9 billion as of October 2021, Stanford itself should be funding multiple tenure-track positions and multiple full-time lecturers in AAS, and any additional fundraising monies should be used for endowed chairs and programming. "

However, perhaps due to the cynicism beaten into me from the corporate world, I don't really believe in the power of "should." Rather, my work experience teaches me pragmatism. You have to push and pull. We are continuing to push within the bureaucracy of a large institution, with superb support from the faculty who understand the inside game. However, we are also raising funds to pull the administration towards our vision.

That is what led my wife and me to make the largest donation of our lives in December 2021. I hope you will also consider donating to this incredibly important initiative.

Go to Stanford's Giving site:

Include the fund name (Asian American Studies Endowment Initiative Fund) and 5-letter fund code (KBCLT) in any memo area related to the purpose of the gift.

Instructions for stock transfers can be found here:


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