11 Years and Counting

Stephanie Mei | ASIA Vice President

Students share their thoughts on why SU has yet to create an Asian Studies program despite students’ decade-long request. This piece also ran in the Spring 2009 issue.

Transnational Asian Studies, or CAS 200, has only four students in the class this spring.  One of them, Jennifer Zhao, registered for the course but had to petition for it to count toward a critical reflections requirement in the Arts and Science core.

“We’re here on a money schedule,” she says, proposing why so few students are taking the newly added course.  When a course only fulfills one requirement, it lacks appeal and broad interest to students – something that the Syracuse University administration has generalized as a lack of interest in establishing a Transnational Asian Studies Program (TASP) altogether.

While 11 years, three Arts and Sciences deans, and two provosts have come and gone since formal requests for TASP started, student interest continues to stress the need for one.  Currently, SU offers few introductory courses that relate to Asian-American interests, and there are no 300-level courses that count toward a minor or major, according to a November 2008 Daily Orange article.

Students have noticed that the course catalog fails to satisfy the needs of Asian Americans.  A-Line asked the current executive board members of SU’s Asian Students in America (ASIA) chapter their thoughts on why the program has yet to form a TASP major.

“First, we need to have tenured faculty push for the program and be actively involved in it.  Second, we want to be a world-class institution in this field, and the leadership has to be conducive to what people want.  And the last thing, the classes don’t receive enough ‘public relations’ for students to show they’re interested.  We actually have to push it from the student end sometimes.  Why isn’t the university pushing it as much as African-American studies or Latin-American studies?” — Jennifer Zhao, ASIA President

“I think it’s been about eight years that we’ve been trying to form a program.  I think this minor [for TASP] is just a stepping stone for a major in the future…More people do traditional majors.  If I were a freshmen, I would have another major in addition to TASP because that could be used immediately in the real world.” — Bovemsa Cheung, ASIA Secretary

“A lot of it has to do with bureaucratic mumbo jumbo, and it has to do with money, because when it comes to money, people get really sensitive.  They don’t want their programs to be cut.  When one program is established, it’s going to take away from another program that needs money.  I think that’s the major reason.” — Andrea Wangsanata, ASIA Cultural Director

“I feel like there are two reasons.  One because it’s not important to the faculty – there’s not much pressure for them to do it, and they don’t see much incentive to do so in terms of helping out.  The faculty who are involved are very limited – we’re all very busy with work – so that’s one excuse.  But how active is the school in searching for faculty?  Cornell has just recently recruited a new dean for Asian and Asian-American students…so maybe we’re just not active enough as students to put pressure on administrators.”

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