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Wellesley Students Protest College's Lack of Commitment to Multiculturalism

by Neha Ummat, April Chang, Marseille Allen Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2001 at 4:57 PM
ejudge@wellesley.edu

A diverse group of students at Wellesley College is protesting the institution's protracted neglect of curricular and student life issues concerning its largest minority population, Asian and Asian American students.

A diverse group of students at Wellesley College is protesting the institution's protracted neglect of curricular and student life issues concerning its largest minority population, Asian and Asian American students.

Galvanizing this movement is the College's recent decision to deny tenure to Women's Studies Professor Elena Creef, the only Asian American specialist among the faculty. With this decision, Wellesley would not only lose a widely admired teacher, but it would also hinder the development of Asian American Studies. Even though the College publicly celebrates its commitment to curricular diversity, it offers very few courses in Asian and Asian American Studies.

Apart from curricular concerns, for the last four semesters, the college has failed to employ and retain a candidate for an Advisor to students of Asian descent, a 15-hour/week position with no benefits. Last semester, concerned students took action by collecting over 500 signatures for a petition to raise the position to a full time job. Despite the fact that students of Asian descent comprise over 25% of the entire student body, the College has refused to change the job description to respond to the students' needs. Furthermore, the College currently employs no personnel in higher levels of administration who are of Asian descent.

In order for the College to demonstrate its stated commitment to multiculturalism, it must implement the following changes:

1. Change the job description for the Advisor to Students of Asian Descent from 15 hours and no benefits to a forty-hour position with benefits.

2. Hire one Asian American specialist to teach the course 'Asian American Experience' to be offered annually. 'Asian American Experience' is a required course for the Asian American Studies major. Presently, there is only one faculty member teaching this class whose field of expertise does not fall within Asian American Studies.

3. Completely and fairly reevaluate Elena Creef's scholarly work, teaching record, and service to the college in her appeal for tenure.

4. Provide space in the new campus center, which begins construction next year, to accommodate the 13 Asian/Asian American organizations and the advisor to students of Asian descent. The current multicultural space in the student center only accommodates one Tupperware box for each organization.

5. Make a concerted effort to hire specialists in South Asian history and Korean language.

6. Hire at least one Head of House of Asian descent. The Head of House is the residential supervisor of each dormitory.

7. Actively recruit for upper level staff and administrators of Asian descent.

These demands will be delivered to the Dean of the College, Lee Cuba, on Wednesday, February 14th. Should the College fail to respond to these demands, students will hold a sit-in on Thursday, February 22nd.

This year A. Magazine has ranked Wellesley College in the top five best colleges for students of Asian descent. Should the College continue to ignore these demands, students will urge A. Magazine to reconsider Wellesley College's place in its Top Ten List.

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