Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 24, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY


An open letter to President Tom Rochon

Dear President Rochon,

In response to your statement about the Native American Studies minor and your comment: “I learned that we already have a Native American Studies minor in the Humanities and Sciences with four faculty members listed in connection with the program and with courses available that draw on seven different academic departments.”

As Dr. Barlas stated in her letter to you, there is no full-time, tenure eligible, or part-time faculty member for Native American Studies in the Center of Race and Ethnicity (sic), therefore there are no course offerings or curriculum for an Indigenous studies minor. The school of Humanities does have a Native American studies minor that is housed and directed by the Anthropology department. However, while the Ithaca College website does provide an outline of the requirements for the 21 credit minor, the actuality of obtaining a minor in Native Studies has not been made possible to students due to the lack of required course offerings and lack of faculty.

As Native students, we often find ourselves subjected to an education that often displaces Indigenous peoples as relics of the past. By establishing an Indigenous Studies minor in the Center of Race and Ethnicity, with a full-time Native faculty member, we will be able to bring Indigenous people into a modern context and expand on the social issues outside of the historically Eurocentric anthropological lens.

Native American students are statistically and academically underrepresented across college campuses nationwide. While some institutions provide outreach to Native students, the retention rates are diminishing due to a lack of awareness and failure to implement programs that integrate Native students into a predominately white institution.

In keeping with IC 20/20’s goal of increasing diversity on this campus, it is imperative that Ithaca College makes a significantly stronger effort to attract prospective Native American students and establish a space that will provide a foundation for their academic success, such as an Indigenous studies minor would.

The Native American Student Association acknowledges your advocacy for a strong Indigenous Studies program. We thank you for commemorating the activism that has been brought to the forefront of this campus as a response to the continuation of racial inequality in America. While we stand together in solidarity, we must acknowledge the inequality present at our home, Ithaca College.

If you truly believe in social justice, please make us feel at home by establishing an Indigenous Studies minor with sufficient faculty so that it may be completed within four years and welcome future Indigenous students onto Ithaca College’s campus.


The Native American Student Association

Contact: [email protected]