Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

May 7, 2019

 Division of Equity & Inclusion


Dear Campus Community,

This month our nation honors and celebrates the historic contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have made and continue to make to the economic, political, and social landscape of the United States.  Since the arrival and settlement of Filipino sailors in Louisiana in the mid-1700s, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have become the two fastest-growing populations in the United States despite the linguistic, economic, educational, and migration barriers they continue to face.  AAPIs also are one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse communities in this country, tracing their heritage to over 40 different countries and speaking more than 2,000 languages and dialects.

At UC Berkeley, the AAPI community includes 11,500 undergraduate and 1,981 graduate students, making up more than one-third of the student body, as well as 1,649 staff and 226 ladder faculty members. While the percentage appears to be high, it does not speak to the diverse and complex experiences and needs of the AAPI community overall – including the prevalence of mental health issues within the student population and the lack of representation in senior management.

The university is taking steps to ensure that everyone under the AAPI umbrella, including East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander communities, knows they are supported, respected, and valued on campus. Towards this end, the Asian American and Pacific Islander Standing Committee (AAPISC) was established recently under the executive sponsorship of the Division of Equity & Inclusion. The members of this advisory board to the Chancellor, comprised of AAPI undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty, and alumni, will provide recommendations on how to improve campus life for the AAPI community.  

Roy W. Carlson Professor of Engineering, Tsu-Jae King Liu, also has played a significant role on campus as the first woman to lead the College of Engineering.  Internationally recognized for her research and patents in the fields of integrated-circuit devices and technologies, Dean Liu is committed to excellence in research and teaching, as well as enhancing the educational experiences of students. Throughout her numerous leadership roles, she has been instrumental in increasing access to engineering for women and underrepresented minorities.

Another invaluable resource to our campus is the Critical Pacific Islands Studies Library Research Guide, which was created through the collaboration of Pacific Islander students in the Asian Pacific American Student Development office and the Ethnic Studies Library. As described by the City College of San Francisco, "Critical Pacific Islands Studies is the critical analysis of Pacific peoples and cultures in the U.S. diaspora and beyond examining colonization, imperialism, militarization, social movements, and immigration through academic and community-based scholarship and practices."  This guide highlights work by and for Pacific Islands people and communities in disciplines such as Ethnic Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, and Literature through oral histories, art, music, and other ways of sharing knowledge.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley as well, the result of one of the longest student-led strikes in campus history.  This two-month strike was organized by the Third World Liberation Front, a coalition of African American, Asian American, Chicanx, and Native American student groups demanding an education that would be rooted in the needs of communities of color and interconnected with the anti-racist and anti-imperialist social movements that were occurring both nationally and internationally.  The department was the first of its kind in the country, and today offers undergraduate majors and minors in Asian American and Asian Diaspora StudiesChicana/o and Latina/o StudiesNative American Studies, and Comparative Ethnic Studies, and a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies. For more information on the Third World Liberation Front strike, visit the special exhibit in Doe Library’s Brown Gallery through August 31st.

To learn more about the AAPI community, we encourage you to participate in some of the special events being organized on campus to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by such organizations as the Asian Pacific American Student Development (APASD) Office, the Asian Pacific American Theme House (APATH), Asian Pacific American Systemwide Alliance (APASA), and the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies program.


Warmest regards,


Oscar Dubón

Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion




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