SA Senate calls on officials to adopt Asian American studies program

Media Credit: Grace Hromin | Assistant Photo Editor

SA Sen. Gabriel Young, CCAS-U, said the legislation will help “expedite” the process of adding the minor and would help express the “importance” of having ethnic studies options for students.

The Student Association Senate passed a resolution calling on officials to implement an Asian American studies minor program at a meeting Monday.

The resolution, which passed unanimously, asks officials to adopt the minor in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and includes a proposal written from CCAS professors outlining course requirements for the minor. SA Sen. Gabriel Young, CCAS-U and the sponsor of the resolution, said the rise of racial justice this summer and the “exposition” of normalized racism toward Asians and Asian Americans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has “revived” the conversation about the need for an Asian American studies minor.

He said the Asian American student body, particularly the Asian American Student Association, has advocated for a minor since 2017.

CCAS professors Patty Chu and Dana Tai Soon Burgess sent a proposal for the minor to CCAS officials earlier this month, according to the legislation. The proposal was released in conjunction with a petition that has attained more than 2,500 signatures from students, faculty and non-GW communities in support of the minor, the legislation states.

He said the legislation will help “expedite” the process of adding the minor and would help express the “importance” of having ethnic studies options for students.

“GW says that it is an institution that promotes diversity and inclusion yet lacks ethnic studies programs,” Young said. “By passing this piece of legislation, you’re taking another step forward in helping marginalized communities reclaim their voices and stories while providing a space for them to learn, convene and study their own histories.”

The senate also approved a resolution requesting officials include text acknowledging the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on all undergraduate and graduate students’ transcripts for the 2020-21 academic year.

SA Sen. Jovawn McNeil, ESIA-U and the sponsor of the COVID-19 Transcript Accommodations Act, said he will continue conversations with officials to ensure the hardships students are facing due to the pandemic are appropriately noted on transcripts. He said officials should adapt the language on transcripts from last semester to be more “inclusive and representative” of the current circumstances students are facing this semester.

“This is to ensure that there is a clear line of reasoning for students suffering from lower than average grades or praise for those maintaining their high grades in spite of the circumstances,” McNeil said.

Young, the CCAS senator who is also a co-sponsor of the resolution, said the resolution would act as a “safeguard” for students so those viewing job applications know of the challenges faced this semester. He said even for those choosing not to exercise the Pass/No Pass option this semester, including a note on everyone’s transcript can be an indication that students tried their “hardest” during this period.

“Understand that this period was rough for all of us, but just remember that grades aren’t reflective of a person, and we are more than just a grade,” Young said.

The senate also confirmed Courtland Ingraham, a first-year law student, as a law school senator to fill the body’s last senate seat vacancy.

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