Rutgers University Senate
Equal Opportunities Committee
Resolution Supporting Asian-American Student Initiative
March 2004


In spring 1999, the Rutgers University Senate passed a resolution recommending the creation of an Asian-American Cultural Center (AACC) at New Brunswick with a satellite center at Newark.  The needs that the AACC was designed to serve were multiple and pressing:

In 2000, the University launched an Asian-American Cultural Center in New Brunswick.  Although the University had been urged to provide space and staffing resources for the AACC comparable to those of the Paul Robeson Center and the Latino Center for Arts and Culture, the AACC was allocated a very small space and only one staff position.  The AACC Director has worked valiantly over the past four years to launch the Center and to make headway on the Center’s multiple goals and objectives.  But insufficient space and inadequate resources make it impossible for the Director to realize fully the important mission of the AACC.

In March and October 2003, the Asian Student Council brought to President McCormick’s attention several critical concerns of Asian-American students on campus.  Inadequate space, staff, and programming resources for the AACC, combined with insufficient course offerings in Asian Studies and Asian-American Studies, create the impression that the University’s continuing neglect of one-fifth of its student population is far from “benign.”  Rather than feeling welcomed and affirmed by the University, Asian-American students continue to experience marginalization.  To remedy this problem, the Asian Student Council petitioned the Administration for increasing space, staff, and programming resources for the AACC, significant development of curricular offerings in Asian Studies and Asian-American Studies, and the creation of a continuing dialogue with the University Administration in order to identify concrete and creative solutions to these problems and to develop a clear time-line for implementation of these solutions.

In response to the Asian Student Council petitions, President McCormick has met with student representatives and directed FAS Executive Dean Holly Smith to appoint an ad hoc committee to investigate curricular issues pertaining to Asian-American Studies at Rutgers.  During the same time frame, Dean Smith also appointed an FAS Task Force on Race and Ethnicity, charged to investigate a range of issues some of which are directly relevant to the concerns raised by the Asian Student Council.  In addition, the Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes, with the support of the University Administration, is conducting a systematic campus climate survey.

1The EOC realizes that this is the language of the original resolution, but notes that this language conveys the mistaken impression that there was very little offered in Asian Studies at Rutgers. A description of Asian Studies written for the Rutgers Campaign highlights some of the existing strengths of the program:

"Rutgers has a long interest and history in Asian Studies, dating back to the 19th century when the first group of Japanese students came to study at Rutgers College.  The Asian Studies Program was established in 1969 to cultivate and promote the study of all aspects of Asia and serve a coordinating function, to help bring faculty together for curriculum planning and to set up interdisciplinary programs.  Currently there are close to 40 faculty in Asian Studies at Rutgers.  Serving a vital role at Rutgers in the enhancement of undergraduate education about the non-Western world, the program coordinates and offers courses across a wide range of disciplines, including Anthropology, Art History, Business, Comparative Literature, Asian Languages and Cultures, Economics, Education, Geography, History, Linguistics, Political Science, and Religion.  The faculty in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and in the Asian Studies Program have been consistently active at research and scholarship. Their recent publications encompass a wide range of fields, such as Chinese political culture, Chinese minorities, East and Southeast Asian languages and culture, women writers in Japan, library development in China, economic transformation in Japan, Chinese Buddhism, Indian trade, ecology of Southeast Asia, etc.  In recent years program faculty have received grants for research and program development from many sources, as the Social Science Research Council, the Luce Foundation, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, the Japan Foundation, and the Korea Foundation, a record few comparable programs can match.  The Asian Studies Program further undertakes many outreach activities intended to enhance an understanding of Asia, including lectures, seminars, conferences, teachers' workshops, and other cultural events.  The program's lecture series have attracted many prominent experts on Asian Studies.”


Whereas the creation and maintenance of an academic environment that recognizes the full equality of all members of the university community and affirms the dignity and cultural diversity of all students lies at the heart of the university’s mission; and

Whereas Asian-American students, who comprise one-fifth of the Rutgers student population and have experienced marginalization and neglect, seek to establish active participation and complete inclusion in the Rutgers community; and

Whereas affording all Rutgers students enhanced opportunities to learn about the Asian nations that comprise 60% of the world population contributes significantly to the university’s academic excellence and helps prepare Rutgers students for the challenges of globalization;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Rutgers University Senate urges President McCormick to increase the space, staff and resources for the Asian-American Cultural Center until they are equal to the resources provided the Robeson Center and the Latino Arts and Culture Center or proportional to the size of the Asian-American student population at Rutgers;

Be it further resolved that the University Senate urges the President, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Deans of all academic units to act expeditiously on recommendations forthcoming from the Committee on Asian-American Studies, the FAS Task Force on Race and Ethnicity, and the Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes; and

Be it further resolved that the University Senate urges the President to instruct the Development Office to make fundraising to support these initiatives a University priority; and

Be it finally resolved that the University Senate urges the President to establish priorities and a time-line for the achievement of these objectives.