On July 16, the University of California Board of Regents voted to grant honorary degrees to approximately 700 Japanese-Americans forced to discontinue their studies at the UC for internment during World War II. After Roosevel’s 1942 executive order, students of Japanese ancestry at UC Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Davis were removed by the military to send Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals to be sent to internment camps.

UC President Mark G. Yudof noted that addressing the “historical tragedy” was long overdue, thus prompting the Regents’ Committee on Educational Policy to recognize this act of injustice. All of the students, whether living or deceased, will be awarded honorary degrees. The diplomas will read the inscription “Inter Silvas Academi Restituere Iustitiam” — meaning “to restore justice among the groves of the academe.”

Yudof remarked that the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians Commission, established by Congress in 1980, found that the internment was not justified by military necessity; in fact, the “grave injustice” was a result of “race prejudice, war hysteria and the failure of political leadership”

“To the surviving students themselves, and to their families, I want to say, ‘This is one way to apologize to you,” said Yudof, “It will never be possible to erase what happened, but we hope we can provide you a small measure of justice.’”

The University of California is encouraging family members and others to help identify students who were unable to graduate because of internment. Please send e-mails with information to [email protected] or call (510) 987-0239.

Source: “WWII internees to receive honorary degrees,” UC Newsroom http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/21513


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