Michelle Zhang 0

For the Inclusion of Asian Perspectives in Vassar's Women's Studies program

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To the Women’s Studies Steering Committee:

We the undersigned are writing in hopes of rectifying what we believe to be a gross under-representation of Asian and Asian American women, and their experiences in the Women’s Studies curriculum. We see this under-representation not only in the Women’s Studies program, nor just in the classroom; we feel this is a campus-wide problem following a national trend of Asian erasure.

We believe in the power of academics to shape social conversations and would thus like to challenge the Women’s Studies program to accept the responsibility of initiating this change. As Asian and Asian American women, we do not see our voices in the literature we read. Often, we are forced to accept merely a conversation about race--namely the struggles of Black and Latina women--as enough, though we see nothing about the unique challenges that we face included in that conversation. We believe an intersectional conversation must recognize how oppression differs between racial groups and give voice to all said groups.

We are tired of feeling the weight of the responsibility that falls on us without being given just place and discussion in the classroom. It is unfair to expect us to have a voice around campus without one in classrooms. Currently, there is low participation of Asian and Asian American women in the Women’s Studies program and we are hopeful that these additions will encourage more Asian women to speak out about their own oppressions and have their voices more actively represented on campus.

This problem is one that has been allowed to subsist for too long and this is what we believe must be done:

Inclusion of Asian and Asian American feminist writings, with as many perspectives as possible within reason, in the program’s central curriculum

More discussion between women of different racial groups and solidarity between these groups

Inclusion of Asian women in the Steering Committee

If one is not available, collaboration with Asian and Asian American students

We believe that change initiated by the Women’s Studies department can incite a campus wide shift for greater recognition of Asian feminism and to create a place in which Asians and Asian Americans are allowed to voice the grievances of their own oppressions.

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