OUR DEMANDS (Revised Spring 2021)

In order to have our education further reflect and address the national history and contemporary context, we demand the following changes at Davidson College:

  • The hiring of Asian American specialists to start building out an Asian and Asian Diaspora Studies program, especially with the acknowledgement of the denial of two positions in 2019, the possible termination of Dr. Sarah Waheed’s contract, and the temporary nature of the current three visiting positions. Currently, the only Asian American Studies specialists at Davidson College are all Visiting Assistant Professors with two- to three-year contracts. The college must commit to hiring permanent faculty in this field.
    • In the spring of 2020, AAI was able to extend Dr. Yurika Tamura’s contract as a visiting professor for another three years. Now, however, we are in danger of losing Dr. Sarah Waheed, as her contract is to be terminated at the end of the Spring 2021 semester. She is currently the only South Asian historian specialist at Davidson College and, without her, there is no South Asian Studies minor. Her course on “The Global War on Terror” should be a key component of any course of study in Asian American Studies, because it historicizes the significance of 9/11, and the longest foreign war in American history, in terms of both its national and international impact. Therefore, we support the continuation of her position as a tenure-track line.  For the creation of the Africana Studies department, Davidson College hired Dr. Tracey Hucks to build out the department in her vision. Hucks, as an established figure in the field, supervised several other pivotal hires for the department, which spurred student interest—particularly from the classes of 2019, 2020 and 2021. As a future core faculty member of  Asian and Asian Diaspora Studies, Dr. Sarah Waheed could play a critical role in building the Asian and Asian American Studies department, especially given her existing experience at Davidson.
    • Dr. Diego Luis and Professor Heidi Amin-Hong were hired for the 2020-2022 school years as Visiting Assistant Professors, but these are still only temporary positions. We maintain that we need an additional tenure-track faculty position starting from the academic year of 2022-2023. While these positions would not yet constitute a department, they are necessary for its eventual creation in later semesters.
  • The establishment of an Asian and Asian Diaspora Studies department that would include four tracks/majors: East Asian Studies (existing), Chinese Studies (existing), South Asian Studies (proposed strengthening), and Asian American Studies (proposed).
    • We demand at least the minor by fall 2022 and the major by, latest, fall 2023. Past student activists have already modeled an “Intro to Asian American Studies” course through their independent study and fought to create a department. We are continuing their efforts and have drafted a framework for the major, including sample course credits from Davidson College’s pre-existing courses and other campus’ Asian American Studies departments. 
    • We call for Asian American departmental public programming––similar to those held by the Asian American Initiative’s Dialogue Series during spring 2019––to educate and raise awareness about Asian Americaness and to demonstrate the relevance and interdisciplinary nature of Asian American Studies. 
    • Moreover, the general lack of knowledge about Asian Americaness results in avoidance or neglect of the topic in courses, deepening its erasure. We insist upon the integration of Asian American topics and perspectives into relevant course syllabi, across multiple disciplines. 

  • Increased efforts to build community within Asian American students. Overall, Asian Americans on campus lack a support system, whether this be in the form of mentorship, counseling, or student community. Without this safety net, Asian American students are likely to feel unsupported and may even choose to transfer. Davidson College should devote energy to the retention of students of color.
    • The hiring of more Asian/American professors would also provide much-needed support for students, in the form of academic mentorship. In addition, these formal and informal professor-student relationships would allow students to engage meaningfully and to build a community beyond simply their peers. 
    • Second, improve the STRIDE program for Asian Americans. Currently, the demographics of STRIDE is not representative of the broader population of students of color, and Asian American participation in the program has dropped exponentially in recent years. If Asian American students do not feel supported within the STRIDE program, they will not come back to the program as mentors. There needs to be an intervention so that this cycle does not continue, and this intervention needs to come in the form of more active support of Asian American students and discussion from administrators within the STRIDE program. 
    • Third, strengthen the Asian American Alumni Network and increase its accessibility. After we published our first demands in 2019, we began to work with Yolanda Gilliam (Alumni and Family Relations) and various Asian alumni to build out the Asian American Alumni Network, but it still requires more support in order to maintain its existence.
      • Publicize the network as a resource for Asian American students and alumni. As of now, most Asian American students, faculty, and alumni are either unaware of or have only heard rumors about its existence; its status as a chartered organization remains unclear.
      • Establish an affinity-group reunion for alumni in order to strengthen intergenerational Asian American community at Davidson College.
      • Create events that strengthen connections between current Asian American students and Asian American alumni, e.g. networking and meet-and-greet events. In April 2020, Asian American alumni and some current students met virtually at a self-organized event. It would be beneficial to have more events and structure through the Office of Alumni and Family Engagement. 

  • Finally, strengthen the network of mental health services that are available to students of color, specifically Asian and Asian American students. 
    • In 2019 and 2020, the Center for Health & Wellbeing hired Alexis Fintchre and Jasmine Peters, who have been instrumental in creating programming and support networks for queer students and students of color. We ask for the future hiring of more women counselors of color so that Dr. Fintchre and Dr. Peters, as well as Dr. David Graham, do not bear the sole burden of supporting marginalized students.
    • In the spring semesters of 2020 and 2021, the Asian American Initiative and the Center for Health & Wellbeing organized a “Immigrant & Diasporic Students of Color Mental Health Workshops” series with Dr. Pearl Wong. We call for the continuation of such mental health programming to target and support students with mental health issues unique to the community. 

  • An increase in Asian representation among deans and other senior administrative staff
    • Any additional hires in different administrative and staff positions, including the Dean’s Office, Residence Life Office, Academic Affairs, and Admissions Office, should be Asian or other people of color. 
    • Increased transparency of statistics on the diversity of student population, including making a clear distinction between international Asian students versus Asian American students. 
    • Pushing for greater Asian American representation on the Board of Trustees. As of right now, the Board is regularly governed by thirty to forty-five members but includes only one Asian American member. 
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