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New position on Asian-American life approved for Sociology Department

Position will be one year

by Geoff Mulvihill

The College has approved a one-year full-time position for an expert on Asian-American life in the Sociology Department.

The new position, which may be filled as soon as next week, will be partially funded by the President's office.

The President's office decided earlier this semester to fund a module-long course on Asian-American issues. The Sociology Department then decided to fill a leave replacement with a specialist in Asian-American issues.

The two efforts were combined into one position.

Professor of Sociology Bill Norris is a member of an ad hoc task force on Asian-American curricular issues. He said he realized the need for more Asian-American faculty in his job as chair of a task force on multiculturalism in 1993 and 1994.

"It seemed to me that sometimes when we were ostensibly talking about an Asian-American adviser we were also talking about the absence of Asian-American faculty who were concerned about Asian-American issues," Norris said.

Oberlin students have been asking for an Asian-American studies department since the early 1970s. Presently, the only faculty-taught class that specifically addresses Asian-American issues is a history course offered in alternate years.

Sophomore Christine Ham is a member of the task force on the Asian-American curricular issues and is also a facilitator of the student Asian-American Studies Committee. She said that while the new one-year position is a step in the right direction, it falls short of the goal of an Asian-American studies department.

"It's exciting, I guess you could say," Ham said. "Still, since it's only a one-year position, it's not something that's permanent."

Ham said the faculty on the task force seem knowledgeable about and sympathetic to the students' desire to add more staff positions concentrating on Asian-American issues. "They're doing what they can."


Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 21; April 19, 1996

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