Bringing a piece of South Asia to ‘Nova

Julie Torres

The failure of their last attempt was disappointing but not discouraging. Last semester, a group of South Asian students in conjunction with select faculty decided to lobby for the introduction of a Hindu/ Urdu language course on campus. Although the University decided against it, the students have not lost sight of their goal. In fact, they have expanded their mission to include the introduction of two more courses: South Asian Literature and the South Asian Political Economy.

As the South Asian community increases, so does the desire for representation in all aspects of college life. With the prominent presence of the South Asian Multicultural Organized Students Association and the Muslim Students Association on campus, South Asian culture has claimed a part of the social scene. But academically, only two courses, the History of India’s Partition and Religion in India and South East Asia, are being offered in spring 2005.

Sophomore Merin Mathew is involved in the campaign to promote knowledge of South Asian society through academic courses. “These courses would be just another step to diversifying our realm of knowledge, similar to what happened with the emergence of Women’s studies, Arab and Islamic studies, or any other course at Villanova,” Mathew said. “It truly shows the progress, in terms of diversity, of the students at Villanova University.”

But bringing these courses to Villanova is not an easy process. The students must first write a petition that outlines their motives and provides information about the tentative courses. The petition must then be reviewed by the appropriate faculty before it can be presented to the public. Once this is done, students will begin to gather signatures and ultimately present the petition to Father Ellis, Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, for approval.

“I believe it is our obligation as South Asian Americans to bring the cultures which have so deeply influenced us into the culture which is influencing us presently,” said Junior Bobby Reddy. “I want to do what ever it takes to bring these courses to campus.”

Idealistically, students hope to institute these courses by spring 2006.

“The challenge is to gather the interest and support not only of South Asian students, but also of those interested in South Asian courses,” said junior Parul Lahoti. “I don’t think we realize how much of a voice we have.”