In the DP: Q&A with Michelle Leong

By Breanne Medford | November 28, 2011 at 10:45 pm | via the Daily Pennsylvanian Engineering junior Michelle Leong was recently elected chair of the Asian Pacific Student Coalition. Leong — who is the outgoing vice chair of political affairs — will lead the Asian umbrella group for the next calendar year. APSC serves as the umbrella organization for nineteen groups on campus. Leong sat down with The Daily Pennsylvanian yesterday to discuss her upcoming goals.

Daily Pennsylvanian: From your past experience with APSC, what have you learned and what do you hope to bring to the table? Michelle Leong: The Asian Pacific Student Coalition has a responsibility and a lot of influence in terms of representing the Asian Pacific community throughout the university to students, faculty, staff and the greater Philadelphia community. We want to make sure that our voice is heard and when we have an initiative that we want to work on, we utilize these resources to achieve our goal. Oftentimes, APSC is a resource not taken advantage of enough so we need to make it transparent that we are available for our constituents.

DP: What are your immediate plans as the new chair of APSC? ML: My immediate plans for APSC include a town hall meeting where all the constituent presidents as well as any students who are interested in the future of APSC are present. This can tell us what the constituent groups want and how we can better provide that. We exist as a coalition because of our constituency.We are planning a leadership retreat for presidents and future leaders in our constituent groups for the beginning of next semester.

DP: What goals do you have for your term? ML: I have three goals that include making ASPC a stronger cohesive coalition. In terms of bringing our coalition together, I would like to increase the number of inter-board dinners so the different boards can get to know each other outside of GBMs and increase event collaborations among the different groups.The second goal is to have an increased presence on campus. Last year, the ASPC did a great job of working with other students groups on mental wellness week. More collaboration with other groups on campus can help to further strengthen our relationship with other groups including the other minority coalitions on issues that we have in common. Thirdly, I would like to increase political activism programming and civic engagement. For example, since there is an upcoming presidential election, we could work on registering more citizens to vote in areas like Chinatown where there is a larger population of Asian citizens.

DP: What are some of the challenges that APSC faces? ML: Our main challenge will be applying for a seat on University Council. We want to make sure we have that representation with the University administration. We can become more proactive in terms of activism by setting concrete, definite goals when it comes to community outreach on campus and in the Philadelphia area.

DP: As a coalition, how do you foster a relationship among the different constituent groups? ML: We have a lot of inter-board dinners and also have a raffle system. We raffle off tickets to different events that the groups have to increase attendance among our constituencies. Overall, APSC is a really supportive network of groups. Last year, many constituents donated part of the proceeds of their events to the Penn Japan Relief Fund.We try to come together to solve common problems we see within each constituent group.