Friday, September 09, 2011

Have others taken a stand for Pacific Islander inclusion in underrepresented minority programs?

Q. Have others taken a stand regarding Pacific Islander inclusion in academic programs for underrepresented minorities?

A. Yes. Many academic programs for underrepresented minorities already include Pacific Islanders. In addition, leaders in the government, academia and the Pacific Islander community have taken a stand on this issue.

Perhaps the most important actions have been the ones coming from underrepresented minority scholarships themselves, especially the thirteen that have changed their policies to include Pacific Islanders since hearing from the P.I.A. project.  You can learn more about those scholarships and fellowships by clicking here: link

In 2010, the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs (one of the largest and oldest community-based Pacific Islander American organizations) unanimously passed a resolution calling for Pacific Islander inclusion in academic programs for underrepresented minorities. In doing so, they joined the following other organizations that have taken a stand for the inclusion:
  • The University of Hawaii's Center for Pacific Islands Studies
  • The National Pacific Islander Educators Network
  • The Pacific Islander Pipeline Program
  • The Indigenous Pacific Islander Alliance
You can learn a little more about each of these groups by clicking here: LINK

This issue has also received attention at various levels of government. In 2005, the Hawaii State House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution urging all academic programs for underrepresented minorities to include Pacific Islanders. While in committee, this resolution also received favorable testimony from statewide organizations like the University of Hawaii (you can still see their testimony here: LINK). That same decade, U.S. Senators Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) together urged the U.S. Department of Education to review its definition of "underrepresented minority" to ensure that Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders were not being left behind.

Citing data from the U.S. Census and other sources, scholars continue to highlight the underrepresentation of Pacific Islanders. One great example is this joint paper from the UCLA Asian American Studies Center: LINK

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