The Asian American Studies Program is an interdisciplinary program that focuses on the scholarship and experiences of Americans, Pacific Islanders, and immigrants to the United States from Asian and Asian American heritage groups. The program sheds light on Asian American experiences and concerns, both historically and in contemporary times.

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.

In 2018, under the directorship of Cindy I-Fen Cheng, The May 2nd Lounge (339W Ingraham) was created as a safe space for students, faculty, staff, and community members to gather and commemorate the activism of students of color who had rallied against racism.

Alyssa Hui ’20, a first-generation college student and graduate from UW-Madison created this video which depict the impacts of racial stereotypes, microaggression, and discrimination toward her Asians and Asian American peers.