Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Dania Matos, Director of Asian Pacific American Student Development Eunice Kwon, Vice Chancellor of Faculty Benjamin E. Hermalin, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Stephen C. Sutton, and Director of People and Culture Eugene Whitlock sent the following message to the university community:
In May, our campus recognizes Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to honor the contributions of the AAPI community to our campus, state, and country. The AAPI community consists of more than 50 different ethnic groups. In recent years, the rise of anti-Asian violence and xenophobia has sadly overshadowed this moment of celebration, although we recognize that anti-Asian racism is nothing new in our country.
We hope this month allows for a renewed space to celebrate the achievements and culture of the incredibly diverse AAPI community at UC Berkeley and the 24 million Asian and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
Celebrating the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
The field of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies was founded in Berkeley more than 50 years ago, one of the first programs in the country. Elaine Kim, one of the founders of Asian American Studies, was the first Asian American woman to receive a tenure at Berkeley.
Last year, the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Standing Committee (AAPISC) released a report titled “Twenty Years Later: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders at UC Berkeley.” Provides critical data on the experiences of the AAPI community and recommendations on how to cultivate a campus environment that is welcoming and inclusive.
Through advocacy for the Pacific Islands Initiative (PI), a part of Asian Pacific American Student Development (APASD), Berkeley has made progress in addressing the underrepresentation of PI students on our campus. The number of PI college students entering Berkeley this year increased by more than 66% from the previous year. PI students conducted more than a dozen programs to bring the PI community together on campus, including hosting the Second Annual OMAOCH (Oceans Sustaining and Organizing Change; a Palauan word) Conference, a conference for youth that aims to build a community among the communities of Pasifika.
In March 2022, several prominent Asian American alumni and community members came together to discuss the importance and impact of Berkeley’s Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies (AAADS) program. Follow-up community meetings on May 19 and 20 will discuss advancing Asian American studies in higher education and incorporating Asian American history into the K-12 curriculum.
In addition to AAPISC, we have several resources that support the campus AAPI community, including Asian Pacific American Student Development (APASD), which includes the Pacific Islands Initiative (PI), South Asia, Southwest Asia and North Africa (SSWANA) Initiative, and the Asian American Political Activation Program, the Asia Pacific American System Alliance (APASA), the MENASA Staff Organization (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia) . We also updated the AAPI General Wellness Guide, an AAPI student wellness resource created in 2021 by undergraduate student Cori Kumamoto.
May is packed with cultural celebrations and discussions, including a Midday Concert: Balinese Gamelan (May 4), Queer, Trans and API: Community, Coalitions and Activism (May 5), Identity and State: The Second Annual Policy Workshop India Center for Contemporary India (May 11-12), APASA Heritage Month Book Exchange (May 12), and the University Library Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2022 (may 23).
We hope you’ll join us to learn more and celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and the contributions of the AAPI community.