The Asian American Studies Crisis

By Jillian Hammer, ECAASU National Board Asian American Affairs Specialist

NEW YORK – Asian American Studies (AAS) is under attack. This academic year has been defined by the resilient struggle of students organizing for the preservation of the program. AAS programs across the East Coast have been intentionally cut, defunded, and/or understaffed by universities. The East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) stands in solidarity with students in their struggle to challenge administration. We believe that the existence of a strong AAS program is non-negotiable. It is the responsibility of universities to provide robust AAS courses and experienced faculty. The ideal AAS program should not only provide visibility of Asian American experiences, but also teach a spirit of activism and resistance.

The AAPI community is no stranger to campaigning for Asian American Studies; it’s a battle we have fought since the 1990s. The existence of AAS must be attributed to the hundreds of student activists who staged sit-ins, hunger strikes, and organized campaigns over the past twenty years. However, it is now our responsibility to continue that legacy. We must ensure that the future generation understands their history and can see themselves as agents of change. When our universities eliminate Asian American Studies, they are choosing to erase our stories. They are sending the message that the history of Asian Americans is not important enough for them to sustain. Your administrators do not believe that Asian American experiences are valuable. This is a crisis.

It’s more important now than ever to express your support and solidarity with universities fighting for AAS. Share their petitions with your network. If your school already has AAS, reach out and offer your resources. No movement is sustainable without a unified front. 

If you are interested in beginning a campaign for Asian American Studies at your university, please contact Jillian Hammer, the Asian American Affairs Specialist at for advice on first steps. If your school is in the midst of a campaign, contact Jillian for an ECAASU letter of support and/or general advice on continuing the fight.

“Unless we know ourselves and our history, and other people and their history, there is really no way that we can really have the positive kind of interaction where there is real understanding.” – Yuri Kochiyama

Wesleyan College
Brandeis University
Hunter College
University of Pennsylvania
Duke University
Harvard University
If we missed your school, please let us know and we will add you to the list.

University of Pennsylvania
Hunter College
Duke University

Jillian Hammer, Asian American Affairs Specialist
Kathryn Quintin, Executive Director