The California State University Board of Trustees will consider granting hundreds of honorary degrees to former students forced from their academic studies due to the internment of people of Japanese ancestry during World War II.
On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Federal Executive Order 9066, clearing the way for military leaders to set up an “exclusion zone” which encompassed all of California. More than 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants in this zone were forcibly relocated to camps.
By some historical accounts, nearly 250 Americans of Japanese descent were students attending CSU campuses when the order for removal was issued. Campuses established by 1942 include Chico, Fresno, Humboldt, Pomona, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San José and the California Maritime Academy. While records show some students went on to receive a university degree, many did not.
“Hundreds of students were removed from colleges and universities, forced to delay or abandon their dreams based solely on their ancestry,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “The internment of Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants during WWII represents the worst of a nation driven by fear and prejudice. By issuing honorary degrees, we hope to achieve a small right in the face of such grave wrongs.”
On Sept. 23, the Educational Policy Committee will vote on conferring the honorary degrees. The item will then be considered by the full CSU Board of Trustees. All former CSU students whose studies were interrupted due to the internment may be eligible for the honorary degrees. Surviving family members may receive the honorary degree in recognition of a deceased student.
The California State University is asking for public assistance in identifying individuals who qualify for the honorary degree. Former CSU Students (or families of students) whose studies were interrupted due to the internment are urged to call (562) 951-4723, [email protected]