In a letter addressed to senior administrators, a group known as the Brandeis Asian American Task Force outlined a list of demands related to the creation of an Asian American studies department. The list follows a similar list of demands issued by the Ford Hall 2015 student protesters who occupied the Bernstein-Marcus Administration building for 12 days. In a Dec. 22 email sent to the community, Interim University President Lisa Lynch announced the formation of a a Faculty-Student Committee on Asian American Pacific Islander Studies, the first goal of which will be to hire a faculty member to teach an Asian American studies core course. 

This Editorial Board applauds BAATF’s initiative and the University’s cooperation in meeting the critical need for a department of this nature. The formation of the committee will put top administrators and students invested in this issue in conversation with each other and offers a critical first step to reaching their eventual goal of extensive course offerings in this burgeoning academic field. 

There’s reason to be optimistic that the new committee will result in tangible outcomes. In a poll conducted by Hin Hon (Jamie) Wong ’17, well over half of those polled expressed either resounding or tentative interest in an Asian-American studies minor. The survey comes from a sample pool that is not representative of the larger Brandeis community, but it does indicate that there is a sizable portion of the student populaion interested in seeing BAATF proposals come to fruition. 

The formation of the committee is a productive first step, and this board encourages BAATF to continue to strive for its initial goals. If BAATF’s core members maintain the energy and initiative that formed the committee in the first place, actively publicize the committee’s progress and keep the student body informed, they will be on track to achieve their ambitious but very possible long-term goals. 

The committee will prove meaningless if it does not introduce additional classes and eventually an organized program or department, but this board is confident that BAATF will rise to the occasion given the concerted efforts it has made already.