Campuses to honor WWII detainees
May 17, 2010 2:46 PM
After 68 years, Japanese American students who were forced out of postsecondary schools during World War II, incarcerated and put into wartime camps will finally get a chance to receive closure.
Along with five other CSU's , SF State's 109th Commencement this Saturday, will honor the former SF State Japanese American students who will receive their honorary degrees in response to Assembly Bill 37, that was created by Assembly Member Warren Furutani (55th District) and approved by the Governor in October of last year.
"No other legislator had ever offered a bill to recognize the students, and because Furutani's family was in the interment, he decided it would be a good idea to recognize the students," said Teresa Ono, advancement services manager at SF State.
Assembly Bill 37 was created ,so that public postsecondary education systems in California would award degrees to each of the students, whether they were living or deceased , who were forced out postsecondary schools because of federal Executive Order 9066 (EO 9066) put into place by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942.
E.O. 9066 authorized military authorities to exclude "any and all persons of Japanese ancestry" from designated areas for national defense, according to the California Nisei College Diploma Project.
The CNCDP was a project of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center for Northern California which started out coordinating the statewide outreach for Assembly Bill 781; the Nisei High School Diploma Project back in 2004, and had been working on Assembly Bill 37 since it was first introduced last year and signed by the Governor in Oct of last year, according to Paul Osaki, executive director of JCCCNC.
Although this is the first time that SF State will be issuing honorary diplomas for the students, it is not the first time that the school has acknowledged them.
According to Ono, the school held a ceremony for the 19 students, in which they issued them a frame certificate that honored them as alum, and in 2002 the Garden of Remembrance, located in the courtyard between Burk Hall and the Fine Arts buildings, was dedicated to them as well.
"I'm proud of SF State because we were the first school back in 1998 to honor the students' alumni certificates," said Ono.
Because of the event given to those students back in 1998, Ono said that finding the students and their loved ones was not a difficult task because of list they had retrieved previously, but she wished that this project could have been done sooner due to many of the students being deceased.
"I am very happy that we found four of the students who are still living, and as of now three families will be attending Saturday's event to receive the diploma for their loved one," said Ono.
Unfortunately, many of the students have died, and on the eight of them who could possibly be alive, transcripts were found, but still none of them could be located.
Maelani Acfelle, a 21-year old junior at SF State, said that her grandmother who is Guamanian and is in her 70's, grew up during in the WWII era and was placed in concentration camps by the Japanese military, and said she did not have fond memories.
"For me its bitter sweet because of what happened to my people, but I feel everybody has a right to education, and that it's great that we can honor them," said the Hospitality Management major.
Acfelle also said that she wish they could have been honored much sooner so that those students effected, who are now deceased could have experienced this acknowledgment for themselves.
Three of the students who were found will be attending a private ceremony on campus Friday May 21, as a special accommodation because they are elderly and cannot sit under the conditions of Saturday's events, Ono mentioned.
The other three families will receive the awards at Saturday's ceremony, where they will be placed in a special seating area in front of the stage, and will walk on stage to receive the diplomas.
So that it would be convenient as possible for the students, the other CSU's where the students could attend the ceremonies are CSU Fresno (May15-19), SCU Dominguez Hills (May 21), San Jose State and California Polytechnic State Universities, and San Luis Obispo (June 12).
Ono said that the honoring of the students will continue to proceed over time until they are for sure that they have honored all 19 students.
Osaki said getting a college education was part of the American dream for many of the Japanese Americans.
"I hope that this project helps to educate students today about what happened 68 years ago, I hope that it makes them better appreciate their college education and that they will use this knowledge to ensure that it never happens again," he said.
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University