In Response to: Postracial Princeton?

Bravo, PAW, for “Reflecting on race” and enabling a welcome communitywide conversation about the topic. “As the University moves to assert itself as a national thought leader on race,” we believe that dialogue needs to include a diversity of voices, and that its academic foundation must include Asian-American studies, alongside its counterpart programs in African-American studies and Latino studies.

It has been three decades since the first student-initiated seminars in Asian-American studies were taught at Princeton by visiting scholars, and we have not made significant progress since then. While student demand is a relevant consideration, that rationale on its own effectively dismisses this important academic field to the realm of identity politics. We are fortunate to have tenured faculty who are playing a leadership role in helping the University to move forward on this front.

We Asian-American alumni recognize the University’s fiscal challenges and have offered to fundraise for these important academic endeavors, but we have been stymied by lack of interest from the administration. In contrast, Harvard this year announced an endowed professorship and two lectureships supported by their Asian-American alumni. Princeton lags woefully behind other universities in its attention to this burgeoning field of scholarship. So many of the questions raised in this issue were centered on an understanding of the interplay between our nation’s (and Princeton’s) complex history and relationship with race. We believe that an Asian-American-studies certificate program, under the framework of comparative American studies, will enable a deeper intellectual discourse on these issues and further strengthen the University’s leadership in the study of race and ethnicity.  

We invite you to join us in realizing the promise of broadening our collective understanding of these issues and enabling a richer conversation about them.

Sue-jean Lee Suettinger ’70