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Joint Resolution by ASSU

· Campaign,Stanford

The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) the body of representatives elected by students to stand up for their interests and interface with the university administration. This week, the ASSU Undergraduate Senate passed a resolution in support of Cantonese, calling for the restoration of four classes per quarter, to be taught by a full-time lecturer with benefits, as well as to consider allowing Cantonese classes to fulfill the undergraduate language requirement. The Senators who shepherded this resolution were Gabby Crooks, Princess Vongchanh, Emily Nichols, and Alain Perez, and it received unanimous approval.

Next, at the ASSU Graduate Student Council, Graduate Student Councilor Yiqing Ding, sponsored the resolution, with Tao Large and Maciej Kurzynski on behalf of Save Cantonese at Stanford. The GSC also passed the resolution unanimously.

This means that the Elected Representatives of the student body are fully behind Save Cantonese, and we will have a chance to bring the issue in front of the Faculty Senate. However, this doesn't change the facts on the ground; we are still waiting for the University to respond to our efforts and restore the program. However, it is very encouraging to know that the student body believes in the Save Cantonese campaign and have shown their support.

Read the text of the resolution below:


AUTHORS: Gabby Crooks, Senator; Princess Vongchanh, Senator; Emily Nichols, Senator; Alain Perez, Senator;

SPONSORS: Yiqing Ding, Graduate Student Councilor; Tao Large and Maciej Kurzynski on behalf of Save Cantonese at Stanford

DATE SUBMITTED: 04/26/2021

ACTION REQUESTED: ⅔ vote in both Legislative Bodies of the ASSU

WHEREAS the Administration eliminated the only salaried Cantonese lectureship and only after substantial student pressure substituted it with a part-time wage position for Fall Quarter 2021,

WHEREAS Stanford’s vibrant Cantonese language program is threatened by the reduction to two classes for Fall Quarter 2021,

WHEREAS students must petition for unadvertised and uncertain Cantonese classes in every subsequent quarter,

WHEREAS student interest and enrollment levels have remained strong and consistent over the past two decades, with an average of 78 enrollments per year, despite the recent cuts to the program, the disruption of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, and the existing classes’ inability to clear the undergraduate language requirement without taking a further examination on reading and writing,

WHEREAS underpaid and exploited Cantonese railroad workers helped create Leland Stanford Senior’s wealth on which this University is based, were instrumental in building the Palo Alto campus, staffed it in its early years, and worked the Stanford family’s agricultural estates even before the establishment of the University,

WHEREAS a strong commitment to Asian American cultures and languages is needed now more than ever to combat a drastic rise in anti-Asian and Asian American racism and violence based fundamentally on the dehumanization of Asian American peoples and the homogenization and denial of Asian American cultures and languages,

WHEREAS a variety of language-requirement clearing, non-petition based Cantonese courses would support heritage Cantonese speaking students’ sense of institutional belonging as “an essential part of the Stanford family”, particularly in light of and to combat against the stereotype of Asian Americans as “perpetual foreigners,”

WHEREAS a strong, accessible Cantonese language program is essential to highlighting the wide range of Asian American experiences, whose homogenization and institutionally unrecognized internal diversity is one of the common underlying features of anti-Asian and anti-Asian American racism and violence in the United States,

WHEREAS Cantonese is one of the most widely-spoken languages in this metropolitan area, with 70% of the Chinese speaking population in San Francisco, Oakland, and Hayward and 60% of the Chinese speaking population in the greater San Francisco Bay Area speaking Cantonese, according to the United States Census Bureau,

WHEREAS Cantonese is essential to understanding, studying, and researching historical and contemporary America, California, and the Asian-American experience, including providing crucial preparation and background for medical students who provide direct services to and research with the local community; anthropologists and archaeologists studying in Cantonese communities in the past and present; and linguists studying the diversity, history, and evolution of Asian languages,

WHEREAS Stanford’s Cantonese language program has enabled multiple doctoral dissertation projects, academic careers, and research programs and has been instrumental in recruiting some graduate students to Stanford ahead of our peer programs at other universities,

WHEREAS Cantonese is the native tongue of Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao, and the BOSP campus in Hong Kong is the only BOSP campus whose main local language is not taught with multiple, five-unit, year-long sequenced, reading and writing classes on the Palo Alto campus,

WHEREAS Cantonese Language instruction helps Stanford students and graduates forge connections and careers in the rapidly developing technological center of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, whose development strategy is inspired in part by the success of Silicon Valley,

WHEREAS Teaching a variety of Sinitic languages at Stanford strengthens our cutting edge scholarship in classical and historical Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese poetry, lyrics, and linguistics,

WHEREAS a petition has been circulated by Save Cantonese at Stanford, and has been signed by over 4,000 individuals and organizations with the demands below, including 34 Stanford faculty, 85 postdoctoral scholars and staff, 928 current students, and 752 alumni as of 25 April 2021, and 

WHEREAS Stanford prides itself on being a university that promotes Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access in a Learning environment as part of its Long-Range Vision, and President Tessier-Lavigne has specifically called “on each of us to rededicate ourselves to...supporting our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community,”


THAT we urge Stanford to guarantee a Cantonese language program with at least 4 course offerings per quarter, three quarters per year, beginning Fall Quarter 2021,

THAT Stanford should allow Cantonese courses to fulfill the University Language Requirement without any additional tests or petitions by including the teaching of reading and writing in its regular Cantonese language courses, and 

THAT Stanford must invest in the long-term viability of the Cantonese language program through a stable, full-time instructor position that is compensated with full-time salary and benefits.