Wednesday, May 22

UCLA Asian American studies program should grow, not downsize


SUBMITTED BY: Sally Zhu

UCLA is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its ethnic studies programs ““ including Asian American studies. The last four decades have placed UCLA at the forefront of community research in the fields of race, class and gender. Ethnic studies has been instrumental in defining and shaping the meaning of diversity within university walls and the broader L.A. community.

However, the UCLA Asian American studies program faces budget cuts that will cripple the core of its mission.

Asian American studies engages students in a different way from any other discipline. We are celebrating 40 years of being one of the nation’s finest Asian and Pacific Islander American research centers. We publish a one-of-a-kind academic research journal. We offer the most innovative courses in the nation.

In these past 40 years, Asian American studies has made great strides in supporting students and the local L.A. community. The program creates student leaders by implementing curricula that value hands-on work in the field. Students interact with community leaders, parents and youth. They gain valuable skills from their internship programs beyond classroom work. Students leave UCLA with direct experience on how to build communities around them and to become better public citizens and leaders.

The budget cuts have exposed a deeper struggle for ethnic studies behind closed doors. Budget cuts are forcing the layoff of professors, a downsizing in classes offered and a reduction to the department as a whole. In this time of celebration, Asian American studies should celebrate growth after four strong decades of existence, not detrimental cuts to its programs.

As a student in the major, I am proud to be a part of its legacy but am disappointed in the sacrifices it constantly has to make. We should not be on the brink of inexistence. We should not be downsizing. We should be growing.

UCLA must protect the future of diversity, promote the next generation of leaders and reinvest in Asian American studies in order to reach its next big milestone.

Zhu is a fourth-year Asian American studies student and director of Asian Pacific Coalition.

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