History & Mission
May 2, 1987 changed the UW-Madison campus.
The Phi Gamma Delta fraternity had used a 15-foot cutout of a black man with a bone though his nose to greet visitors attending their annual “Fiji Island” party. Asian American and Black students came together and denounced this racist display and the fraternity’s attempt to downplay its offense by claiming that the Fijian native caricature was “Filipino” and not “black.”
Among their legacies is the 1988 proposal written by the Asian Coalition requesting the creation of an Asian American Studies Program.
“The Asian Coalition Proposes that the University of Wisconsin-Madison commit itself to the serious scholarly inquiry of the Asian American experience by (1) the establishment of an Asian American Studies Program within the College of Letters and Sciences and (2) the support of this program’s development as a vital center for scholarly research and teaching of Asian American experiences.”
– November, 1988
In 1991, a director Amy Ling was hired, and the first Asian American Studies Program in the Midwest was launched.