OSU Students + Internment

Oregon State University Registrar

Oregon State University’s Office of the Registrar website contains a mélange of information for students, families, staff and faculty. Last week, while perusing the site, I noticed this link at the top of the Registrar’s homepage — “OSU Students Interned During WW II.”

The State of Oregon passed legislation earlier this year that “allows state institutions of higher education to award honorary post-secondary degrees to person ordered to internment camps during the Second World War.”

Persons who in 1942 were registered as students at Oregon State College (as Oregon State University was known at that time) and who satisfy the qualifications described in the law (below) are invited to contact the Registrar’s Office to initiate the process of possibly obtaining an honorary degree.

I applaud the Oregon legislature/governor as well as the Oregon University System (of which OSU is a member) for this policy.

However, I wonder how many individuals who were interred during WW II will actually contact the Registrar’s Office?

The pain of being wrongfully interned (imprisoned) due to one’s race and ethnicity cannot be assuaged with an honorary degree. Perhaps this type of legislation will further educational efforts and awareness on what was done to Japanese Americans during WW II.

Here is the story from a Japanese American in Oregon who was not allowed to get his college degree:

Sam Naito was a student at the University of Oregon in 1942. He was not allowed to finish his degree. The president of the U of O said that allowing Sam to complete his degree “would be a very unpatriotic thing to do.”

Here is an audio clip of Sam talking about his experience as a Japanese American student at the University of Oregon in 1942.