African-American Studies approved as new major

By Obaid Sarvana

The African-American Studies Department announced that it will offer a new major for students next semester.

The major, the African-American Studies & Research Program, will consist of five main areas of focus, including comparative racism, black gender studies and political economy.

The proposal, recently passed by the University’s Board of Trustees, outlines the 48 required hours to complete the major, including a description of the research project that the students are required to complete their senior year in the program.

The major has generated significant interest from students already.

“Since the announcement from the Board of Trustees, we’ve been getting calls from students who want to change their majors immediately,” said Jennifer Hamer, the program’s acting director.

Part of the reason for the excitement surrounding the major is that it offers a trans-discipline approach to African-American studies, unlike other programs across the country, according to the program’s proposal.

“It has been a long time coming,” said Nathaniel Banks, director of the African-American Cultural Center. “(Developing a new program) was a major objective under the current director.”

Banks said that the two departments will collaborate to incorporate it into next year’s programs, including “100 Strong,” an African-American freshman orientation program.

“It’s a year long orientation for African-American freshmen,” Banks said. “We intend to include the ‘100 Strong’ initiative into the African-American Studies program and incorporate (The African-American Studies and Research Program) into ours.”

El Harith Elsiddig, sophomore in Business, was impressed by the program.

“I think it’s a sign of progression that prospective students have (this) option,” Elsiddig said. He also said it had other implications. “It signifies the realization that this is a serious subject that requires further rooted study.”

For many students, such as Elsiddig, the option of choosing this major will have passed by the time it becomes fully available, but for newer students it is a new, compelling remains an option.

Still, many students remain interested in the idea and are excited that the campus offers something of this kind.

“The black experience is really the human experience,” Hamer said. “The issues that black people face, justice and equality, are the same as the experience that all people have.”

Hamer said this was an important concept to understand now.

“Many of the political issues that the politicians are talking about now, black people were facing at the turn of the century,” she said.