Fourth Memorial Monday shines a light on Asian student organizations – The Cavalier Daily
The University’s Minority Rights Coalition hosted three speakers from two Asian student organizations, the Asian Leaders Council and the Asian Students Union, to talk about the history, activism and plans future of their organizations.
Fourth-year college students and ALC co-chairs Serena Wood and Lauren Xue, along with third-year business student Sanjeev Kumar and ASU president, presented to a group of about 20 people from the International Residential College.
The MRC is an organization made up of 11 board member organizations that represent marginalized groups at the University. The MRC focuses on promoting solidarity between marginalized and oppressed communities, and its Memorial Monday series of events is an educational initiative designed to shine a light on student organizations and activism.
RCN Advocacy President Amanda Campbell said the Memorial Monday series is an educational initiative designed to spotlight student organizations and activism.
Previous speakers at Remembrance Mondays events include Danielle Johnson, president of the Organization of African Students, who spoke on October 4, and Dani Alvarenga, president of the Cultural Organization of Latin Americans at the ‘U.Va., who presented the advocacy and goals of the organization in September. 20.
Kumar opened the presentation by discussing the long history of ASU, which was founded in 1988. ASU strives to create safe spaces for Asian students and to form a community for Asian students through events such as their annual APIDA fall, a semi-formal event, as well as other advocacy events.
The organization began advocating for the establishment of a major or minor in Asian and Asian American Studies at the University in 1995.
Today, the minor in Asian and Pacific American Studies has only one professor and a class directly related to the minor. ASU continues the struggle for a comprehensive department dedicated to Asian and Asian American Studies, and is also working with ALC to propose and establish an Asian Student Field Center.
âWe represent a rapidly growing percentage of students on Grounds, but there are very few faculty who are Asian American or who speak about Asian American studies,â Kumar said. “[If] we look at all the deans, administrators, any top administration at the university – there is little to no representation there. Kumar said.
Kumar stressed the importance of having a center for Asian students in the field as well as faculty who can relate to the experience of Asian-American students. The creation of an Asian American student center at the university would allow the community to have access to people who can lobby for greater Asian representation in the university administration as well as to convey Asian American history to new students, according to Kumar.
Kumar said ASU has made great strides in being more inclusive by creating a general body so that students can join the organization without having to go through an application process. Now, potential members only need to join a group chat to be aware of all ASU events.
ASU also strives to move away from a predominantly Asian orientation in its activism – the organization embraces the diversity of the Asian community by incorporating the experiences of voices from South, Southeast and Central Asia. in his plea. ASU works to reach out to South and Southeast Asian organizations on the ground to better understand and represent these communities and the issues they face.
âWe listened to the community a lot more,â Kumar said. âWe’re trying to listen, figure out what the students and different organizations need and target them. “
Wood then introduced the ALC, which started out as an ASU committee. It broke up in 2015 to form a coordination group of 17 Asian student organizations, including ASU. The ALC is both an advocacy group and a force for building community among member organizations.
âWe are not only operating in terms of advocacy on the part of the administration, but we are also trying to foster a community environment with other Asian cultural organizations,â said Wood.
A recent ALC project is to advocate for the creation of a specialization in Asian studies, with research based on its 2018 report We Are Not Invisible: A Report on Academic Reform, which featured emphasis on the need for Asian students to have faculty representation and courses. which examine the Asian American experience.
Xue spoke about the importance of translating financial and legal documents for Asian Americans and acknowledged the impact of oppressive systems on Asians.
“These very institutional oppressive systems always affect how people access financial records, help, and resources that students can access here at U.Va., so it’s really important because language is a barrier. “said Xue.
Another recent initiative by ALC is the creation of Actualize Zine, a student publication that focuses on addressing the stigma associated with mental illness in the Asian American community. The publication accepts submissions from art students, including written pieces, drawings and paintings.
Like ASU, ALC also focuses on goals to increase the inclusion of South Asians, Southeast Asians and Central Asians. The group hopes to foster a more collaborative relationship with the various cultural organizations that are members of the ALC.
To conclude the presentation, Campbell reflected on MRC advocacy and her experience with the Memory Monday series at the University.
âIt has been really, really educational,â said Campbell. “This is my favorite part – seeing all the different organizations and student activism that we have at U.Va.”