[Editor’s note: The following statement was issued by JACL Executive Director David Inoue and Public Affairs VP Sarah Baker]
Last week, on July 22, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie, released a statement on behalf of the university apologizing for the actions the university took during World War II in banning Japanese Americans students. The statement and actions taken within are the culmination of work taken on behalf of Hoosier JACL member and IU alumni, Eric Langowski. On Feb. 19, 2020, in honor of Day of Remembrance, Eric delivered a petition to the University board of trustees, which asked for a formal apology for the university’s wartime actions.
At the 2019 National Convention in Salt Lake City, the JACL National Council approved a resolution to seek apologies from Midwest Schools, including Indiana University, for exclusionary actions enacted during World War II. In 1941, 3,500 Japanese Americans enrolled in schools across the Midwest with this number dropping to 650 in 1942 following the start of the war. The history of Japanese American students has been addressed on the West Coast, but this resolution and actions show that there are a wide variety of wartime stories that need to be taught.
We applaud Indiana University for its acknowledgment of past actions and look forward to the fulfillment of their promised remediation. We also hope that other Midwestern universities will follow suit. If you know of someone who was denied admission to Indiana University or another Midwestern University, please contact the Nisei College Redress Project at firstname.lastname@example.org.