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9.24.2009

the best colleges and universities for aapi students: columbia

This month, to kick off the school year, I'm partnering with Asian Pacific Americans for Progress to bring you a very special list of The Best Colleges and Universities for AAPI Students. Last week and this week, we've been profiling the top ten best schools for AAPI student activism (in no particular order). Our final campus is...

Columbia University
Private University
Location: New York, New York
Founded: 1754
Enrollment: 7,500
API population: 15%
Interesting fact: During his welcoming remarks at the APAHE conference in 2002 hosted by Columbia University, President Lee Bollinger told the crowd that Asian Americans do not have a stake in the affirmative action debate. In response, the large crowd gave him a resounding crash course in Asian American Studies with a lot of evidence about the racial and class inequalities faced by Asian Americans.

"Given its location in New York City, students have access to more resources and opportunities for activism than the usual collegiate experience. With a very organized community, Asian American students have a very strong influence on day-to-day student life and affairs." - Nominator

Over the last few years, AAPI students at Columbia have been extremely busy working on a variety of issues. Through cultural projects and activism, Asian American students at Columbia are very organized and engaged in advocating on behalf of AAPIs on the campus and in the surrounding communities.

Even though Columbia has an Asian American Studies program with famous professors like Gary Okihiro, a group of students proactively initiated a hunger strike in 2007, demanding an expansion of Ethnic Studies. One of the strikers was the vice president of the Asian American Association (AAA). At the end of the strike, the administration agreed to a timeline for meeting demands to grow the Ethnic Studies department by recruiting more faculty.

Also in Fall 2007, the NYPD arrest of a Korean American undergraduate from Texas was marked with racial slurs and remarks such as "Can you speak English?" Students took immediate action, meeting with the local NYPD precinct captain to demand sensitivity training for officers.

In the local community, Asian American students participated in the campaign for workers' rights at Saigon Grill, which was paying its workers $1.78 an hour. They have also worked with AALDEF on voter education, registration, and poll monitoring on election days. Students also mentor local high school students in the NYC area victimized by hate crimes and bias attacks, as well as youth who have been victims of domestic violence. In April 2009, the AAA hosted the Crossroads: High School Leadership Conference, bringing high school youth to Columbia to learn about Asian American history, leadership/activism skills, and current issues.

Columbia is definitely a place where AAPI students are actively holding the institution accountable to its campus community, and getting active in the surrounding community to make a difference! To see the rest of the Best Colleges and Universities for AAPI Students, go here.