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Petition Launched to Save Cantonese

A statement by students, alumni and external supporters

To sign the petition, please click here

Dear Provost Persis Drell,

As members of the Stanford community, we wish to express our deep concern and disappointment at the decision to eliminate the Cantonese language program at Stanford. This popular program has expanded to include different proficiency levels since its inception in 1997 and enjoyed steady enrollment thus far. The decision to terminate the contract of the sole Cantonese lecturer on campus, Dr. Sik Lee Dennig, effectively erases the program.

Moreover, we strongly believe that Stanford University has a historical obligation to the Cantonese community because its foundation was built on the backs of Cantonese migrant workers. Stanford University has a moral duty to continue Cantonese language education and to uphold its commitment to diversity and inclusion. We urge you to rescind the Language Center’s decision and recommit Stanford to its Cantonese language program.

Stanford must continue its Cantonese program for the following reasons:
1. Eliminating the Cantonese language program is inconsistent with values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
2. Without the sacrifices of Cantonese Railroad Workers, Stanford would not exist as we know it today.
3. Chinese people are not a monolithic group, and Cantonese is widely used across the Chinese diaspora.
4. Cantonese language is vital to cutting-edge, transnational research and cultural exchange at Stanford.
5. Stanford’s Cantonese language program has changed students’ lives for over twenty years.

We request that Stanford University make these institutional commitments to Cantonese:
1. Guarantee a Cantonese language program with at least 4 course offerings per quarter.
2. Allow Cantonese courses to fulfill the language requirement by including reading and writing.
3. Invest in the long-term viability of the Cantonese program through a permanent full-time instructor position that is compensated with salary, benefits, and protections.

The Undersigned,

View the full list of signatures here:

Note: This petition is also endorsed by many individuals from outside the Stanford community. If you are not affiliated with Stanford and would like to support our cause, please select "Non-affiliated" in the Google Form.

To sign the petition, or for a more detailed version of the petition, please visit