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Run for APSC XXIV!
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It's hard to believe, but it's almost time to elect the next APSC board. Everyone (younger than the Class of 2018) is eligible to run for APSC. We strongly encourage anyone who is interested in APSC to reach out and learn more about what it's like to be on board.
If you know someone who would be a great candidate, please continue to nominate here.
Important Dates for Candidates:
  • Meet with the role(s) you are interested in: anytime before elections
  • Candidate's Meeting: Tuesday, 10/31 at 7:30 PM in PAACH
    • Mandatory for all candidates, email me if you cannot make it
  • Application Due Date: Sunday, 11/5 at 11:59 PM
  • Elections: Wednesday, 11/8 at 8:00 PM (candidates must arrive by 7:45 PM)
    • Arch 108

Apply Here: APSC-XXIV-Executive-Board-Application-2018

Events, Featured, NewsBoard APSC
Apply to be our FRESHMAN LIAISON!
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APSC highly encourages any freshmen interested in becoming more involved in Penn’s API community to apply to become a Freshman Liaison for APSC. The Freshman Liaison will:

  • Develop as a leader in the API community, meet leaders of APSC constituent groups, and learn more about the issues facing our community.
  • Promote APSC, its constituents, and its initiatives to the freshman class.
  • Recruit other freshmen to join APSC’s constituents and Executive Board.
  • Attend APSC’s weekly Executive Board meetings as well as its biweekly General Body meetings.

The position will require a commitment from September until November 8th, when the Executive Board turns over and the new board is elected.

To apply, please fill out the application below and submit it to chair@upennapsc.org by 11:59 pm on Sunday, September 17th. Executive Board will conduct in-person interviews in the days following the submission of the application. If you have any questions, feel free to send us an email at board@upennapsc.org!

APPLY HERE: 2017 APSC Freshman Liaison Application

Featured, NewsBoard APSC
Statement on Executive Orders

The executive orders this past week blocking and deporting immigrants and refugees from 7 Muslim-majority countries are the antithesis of the basic founding principles of this country. While our community encompasses a range of generations from international and first generation to fourth and beyond, we are all immigrants who have been taught to see the U.S. as a land of opportunity and freedom. With these new policies, we must now question this.

It is heartbreaking, frustrating, and disappointing to see this new Presidential Administration disregard constitutional law, basic human rights, and decades of progress. Beyond these orders, his rhetoric has spawned a wave of Islamophobia across this country - from burning mosques to other violent hate crimes. As the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, we refuse to stay passive and vainly wait for Trump to change his tune because he has already been showing his true colors this entire time.

As Asian Pacific Islanders, we are no strangers to discriminatory legislation. In the 1880s, there was the Chinese Exclusion Act. In 1923, the U.S. declared Asian Indians ineligible for citizenship. In 1924, the Immigration Act virtually limited all Asian immigration. The list goes on. Islamophobia has endangered our friends and families who, because of their faith, have to live with fear and emotional duress and we must support them. Discrimination is a moving target - no one has the luxury to stay silent. We must collectively use our voices and our votes to show that no one - no matter what shape of office they sit in - has the power to enact such irresponsible and morally reprehensible policies.

APSC supports and will always support all members of our community, regardless of religion or documentation status. Along with the Pan-Asian American Community House (PAACH) and other campus resources, we are working to build safe spaces for anyone who is seeking support and community. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you are looking to organize, learn, or just a friend to talk to.

Featured, NewsBoard APSC
LOOKING FOR: Freshman Liaison Fall '16!

APSC highly encourages any freshmen interested in becoming more involved in Penn’s API community to apply to become a Freshman Liaison for APSC. The Freshman Liaison will:

  • Develop as a leader in the API community, meet leaders of APSC constituent groups, and learn more about the issues facing our community.
  • Promote APSC, its constituents, and its initiatives to the freshman class.
  • Recruit other freshmen to join APSC’s constituents and Executive Board.
  • Attend APSC’s weekly Executive Board meetings as well as its biweekly General Body meetings.

The position will require a commitment from September until November 18th, when the Executive Board turns over and the new board is elected.

To apply, please fill out the application below and submit it to chair@upennapsc.org by Thursday, September 15 at 11:59 pm. Executive Board will conduct in-person interviews in the days following the submission of the application.

APPLY HERE: Final_2016 APSC Freshman Liaison Application

Featured, NewsBoard APSC
WANT TO BE FEATURED ON OUR PAGE? [APSC WEEKLY SPOTLIGHTS]
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APSC Weekly Spotlights will be starting up very soon for the 2016 year! We are currently looking for submissions or nominations to be featured on APSC's social media series called: Person of the Week. Each week, we will post a brief profile of members in the APSC Community to highlight their accomplishments and put it up on our social media outlets. If you have a nomination for someone that you think would be a great addition to our page, email communications@upennapsc.org or message the APSC Facebook Page (you have to like us though ;) ) with the following information:

[Self-nominations are accepted too, of course.]

Name: 
School/Major/Class:
Which APSC Constituent Group(s) are you involved in?
What other groups are you also involved in?

ANSWER 3 of the following (or make your own): - Biggest Pet Peeve: - Favorite Quote: - Favorite Brunch Place or Food Truck - Most played song - Place that you would want to live (given no language barriers and other restrictions) - What you wanted to be as a kid - Secret talent - OR anything other cool fact you can think of! (The above were just possible ideas, but you have leeway, so have fun with it!)

What is your favorite part about being part of the APSC Community or your respective constituent group(s)?

Facebook Profile Page Link:
***Attach a photograph!

Don't miss out on this opportunity to embarrass one of your friends or highlight someone amazing in the API community.

Events, Featured, NewsBoard APSC
The Greek Chat
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The Greek Chat will answer any questions you have about Greek Life, ranging from the different types (Panhellenic, Interfraternity, Multicultural) to different processes, and of course, personal experiences. WE HAVE REPRESENTATIVES FROM: alpha Kappa Delta Phi Alpha Kappa Psi Lambda Phi Epsilon Phi Gamma Nu Phi Kappa Psi Sigma Psi Zeta

It's just around rush time. Come for some real talk. RSVP to the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1720433328191286/

 

Events, Featured, NewsBoard APSC
Congratulations APSC XXII Board!
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APSC XXI board, thank you for an amazing term. Your impact on the API community will forever be cherished & the leadership you all have shown is absolutely inspiring. Thank you for fighting on behalf of the things you are passionate about. You are irreplaceable in our hearts. And now, we'd also like to send a warm congratulations to the new APSC XXII Executive Board, which will consist of: Sarah Cho, C'17 | Chair Brandon Chin, W'17 | Vice Chair Yen-Yen Gao, W'18 | Vice Chair of Political Affairs Maya Rawal, C'17 | Vice Chair of Constituent Affairs Andy Miao, C'18 | Vice Chair of Finance Majid Mubeen, W'17 | Vice Chair of External Affairs Michelle Shen, C'19 | Vice Chair of Communications

We wish this new board the best of luck & cannot wait to see them lead the API community with their great ideas and visions.

Featured, NewsBoard APSC
Welcome to our Freshmen Liaisons!

We are proud to introduce Albert Cai and Hillary Nguyen, our Freshmen Liaisons for the fall 2014 semester! We can't wait to see what our newest board members have in store for us. Welcome to the APSC family! Want to know more about our newest board members? Check out their pet peeves, favorite junk foods, why they joined ASPC, and more under their profiles here!

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Featured, NewsBoard APSC
NSO Late Night - CelebrASIAN

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APSC's annual NSO Late Night: CelebrASIAN is a showcase of the diversity and variety of Asian culture via a collaboration of several multicultural groups from across Penn's campus. Showcasing groups had stations featuring their unique culture via games, dance tutorials, music, food, drinks, arts and crafts, and free giveaways. There was also an area that was dedicated for collaborating performing arts groups to showcase their talents throughout the entire late-night.

Collaborating groups included alpha Kappa Delta Phi Sorority Inc. (aKDPhi), South Asia Society (SAS), Sigma Beta Rho Fraternity Inc. (SBP), Vietnamese Students ASsociation (VSA), Sigma Psi Zeta Sorority Inc. (SYZ), Lambda Phi Epsilon (LPhiE), Chinese Students' Association (CSA), Penn Pakistan Society (PPS), Korean Students Association (KSA), Penn Philippine Association (PPA), Penn Taiwanese Society (PTS), Society of Asian Scientists & Engineers (SASE), Asian Pacific American Heritage Week (APAHW), Japan Student Association (JSA), Penn Dhamaka, Penn Masti, Penn Naach, Penn Masala, Penn Yalla, Penn Lions, Sangam, Penn Sori, Penn Sargam, Penn Hawaii Club (PHC), Penn Thillana, Penn Atma, Hong Kong Student Association (HKSA), Penn Q&A, Penn Hype, Hindu Students Council & Young Jains of America (HSC/YJA).

Want to see some photos? Click here to see our CelebrASIAN photo album!

Events, Featured, NewsBoard APSC
In the DP: One-on-One with the new Chair of Asian Pacific Student Coalition

By Huizhong Wu | December 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm | via the Daily Pennsylvanian Last week, the Asian Pacific Student Coalition elected their new chair. The Daily Pennsylvanian sits down for a one-on-one with College sophomore Curtis Lee to discuss the upcoming year.

Daily Pennsylvanian: What are your biggest goals for APSC this year? Curtis Lee: Three of the biggest goals right now for APSC, one, to really to work on our external outreach as far as civic engagement and political activism. Number two would be to address issues like the Dephanie Jao incident, to really work on getting resources for students who experience these kind of incidents and really to work with the administrators and the Pan-Asian American Community House to really think about what kind of things we can do in the future. Thirdly would be to work internally in APSCto provide resources for our constituencies.

DP: What kind of external outreach are you planning to do? CL: We really want to have the opportunity to give back to the larger Asian-Pacific American community in Philadelphia. One way I think we can do this is to partner with Civic House Associated Coalition and Civic House to really think about can we look for external groups who can partner with specific APSC constituent groups to work together. We just really want to not be focused so much internally on what we do on Penn’s campus.

We’ve been able to reach out to other student groups at Drexel and Temple. I think that just spreading outreach to other schools is important as well, [but] I think there should be a good balance.

DP: What do you want to accomplish here on campus? CL: First and foremost we are thinking about our groups because APSC is a constituency. A good way to serve them is to really think about how we can help them to strengthen their organization and also to help them reach out.

DP: Can you tell us more about what you’re planning to do for your constituency groups this year? CL: Traditionally APSC has had some kind of workshop for its constituents. Last year it was specifically targeted towards things like how do you get funding for your group, how do you make a website. I think there’s room for, in additional to those, things that also target how do we help them internally as a group. There’s a need to teach leadership skills to people who need it, not just to our constituency groups but to also open it up to people who are interested.

DP: After APSC and UMC’s joint letter of response to Dephanie Jao’s column “Hunting for Asians,” what else is APSC planning to do to follow up on this incident? CL: Right now APSC is working with the United Minorities Council to work with administration to talk about how can we make the resources available to students. A lot of students aren’t as willing as Dephanie to speak out and make their voice heard.

We really want to take initiatives and programming and have tangible things we can offer to students. We’re working closely with administration and resource centers. Another thing to talk about is how do we have peer to peer dialogue about the issues. This is an incident that really should resonate with lots of different communities, not just with the Asian community. So we want to see how can we facilitate this dialogue with other students.

DP: APSC doesn’t seem to tackle as many political issues as the Latino Coalition or the Lambda Alliance — any reason why? CL: I think that a lot of the issues APSC deals with is more subtle and there’s not always a clear pressing issue. In the past term, there wasn’t a clear issue for us to tackle. That is something [that] as a new board we have to discuss. We will continue to help our constituencies to be aware and to rally together as a unified body.

NewsBoard APSC
In the DP: ‘Hunting for Asians’ stirs discussion

By Huizhong Wu | November 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm | via the Daily Pennsylvanian The Penn community is speaking out in response to a graduate student’s account of an alleged on-campus racial incident.

In a Nov. 1 Daily Pennsylvanian guest column, Graduate School of Education student Dephanie Jao wrote of an encounter in which she claimed to have been approached by five people who said they were participating in a Drexel University sorority scavenger hunt. Jao wrote that after she and her two friends were separated, one of the group members tried to forcibly kiss her while another took a photo. Jao said “no” to the alleged advances, and after a short while, she wrote, the individuals left.

“Even though what happened may not have been the result of racial hatred, it was still racism. Racism occurs whenever people are viewed as less than full persons because of their race,” Jao wrote in her piece. “The group that night did not see us as people or as students — but as items who fit a convenient category on their scavenger hunt: three Asians.”

Since Jao’s column ran, groups from all over Philadelphia — such as Parents United for Public Education and the city’s chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association — have taken note of her account. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran an article about Jao last week.

Penn’s student organizations have also stepped up. A number of different groups — including the United Minorities Council and the Asian Pacific Student Coalition — wrote a collective response to Jao’s column on Nov. 8 in the DP. The groups are also planning several events in the near future to raise further awareness of the incident.

“The purpose of the letter was to just show that there is significant support and understanding for Dephanie,” College senior and UMC Co-Chair Lucia Xiong said. “This should not just be pushed aside as a minor incident.”

Jao and other campus leaders said they have been disturbed by the reactions of some to the column.

“I found [the online comments] very, very depressing,” Jao said. “People are treating these kinds of instances as a zero-sum game, by virtue of the fact that there are worse instances of these incidents out there.”

Engineering senior and APSC Chair Michelle Leong also expressed her concern over the fallout from Jao’s account.

“Just reading those comments was a little disappointing. A lot of them basically said, ‘Get over it,’” Leong said. “I don’t think people should be so quick to dismiss other people’s stories and expectations, because each person feels and reacts differently.”

UMC and APSC members said they are hoping to use this experience as an opportunity to encourage more people to speak out about similar incidents.

“We would like to empower individuals to feel like they have the right to speak up about anything that can happen,” Xiong said.

According to College junior and APSC Vice Chair of Political Affairs Nishat Shahabuddin, the two student organizations — along with the other minority umbrella groups — are planning to hold a workshop discussing how to deal with incidents like Jao’s, and how to react in these types of situations.

“We hope to have a testimonial section [in the workshop] where students and Dephanie come forward and share their experiences and how they’ve dealt with them,” she said. “If anything, the comments to her article were really a wake-up call. We weren’t expecting to see people challenge her decision to publicize her experience. That was unfortunate.”

Meanwhile, Jao’s case has still not been resolved. According to Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush, an investigation into the alleged incident is still ongoing.

“If they do it again, we would have to confirm with the Philadelphia Police Department,” she said. “[And] we would see if there was a match on the investigation.”

NewsBoard APSC
In the DP Guest Column: Breaking the silence

By Asian Pacific Student CoalitionUnited Minorities Council | November 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm | via the Daily Pennsylvanian We applaud second-year Graduate School of Education student Dephanie Jao for sharing her story in the guest column, “Hunting for Asians.” No one should ever be made to feel like a mere item on a scavenger hunt list. No one should have to physically defend herself against strangers who singled her out based on race and gender.

While games like this may initially appear harmless, their ultimate effects should not be trivialized. Dephanie was left questioning how her Asian identity had primed her as a target in a game. In a time when it is easy to feel judged for coming forward with race-related incidents, we understand the strength it takes to be in the spotlight.

We hope Dephanie’s resolve will encourage others to do the same. Too often, men and women from all different backgrounds find themselves facing similar forms of discrimination. They struggle to find the line between what our society dismisses as hypersensitivity and what is considered a “genuine” act of racism. In the chaos of the moment, these discriminatory experiences leave them feeling confused and wondering: “Is this racist? Is this inappropriate? Should I speak up?”

In cases like these, should we — the Penn community — expect those who are courageous enough to speak out to simply “get over” the event? No.

Why should anyone have to “get over” an experience in which he or she was left feeling less than human?

While the motivations of the planners and the participants of the racially charged event remain unclear, we know that a student was forced into an incredibly uncomfortable situation. Have we really become so desensitized to these types of incidents that we are willing to dismiss them? Given that we are all entitled to a certain standard of dignity, such objectification should not be accepted. This type of understanding mindset will allow Penn to uphold its tradition as a campus that welcomes a diverse student body.

Individuals hesitate to reflect on these types of acts, thereby posing a challenge to this tradition. They fear their experiences will be devalued in light of supposedly worse situations.

Sharing experiences, despite those challenges, is the first step towards counteracting problematic social standards. However, the onus is not solely on the individual to come forward. Instead, we must also see ourselves in others and recognize the parallels between various prejudiced, uninformed actions. Ultimately, maintaining an open mind will build empathy between individuals of all races, genders, sexual orientations and religions.

We admit it is difficult to speak up during a large scavenger hunt or in any other group setting, especially among friends. No one wants to be that person who speaks up and ruins the party. But it’s that person that makes Penn what it is. It’s that person that creates tangible change on this campus, making it a safe space for all. We, as students of the University of Pennsylvania, need to work together to ensure that all students feel comfortable on this campus. So don’t just stand back and remain silent. Speak up and act.

Whether you share experiences in mass media or among smaller circles of friends, opening dialogue to individuals who do not typically engage in this type of critical thinking is important. Several open and safe spaces exist at Penn, but how do we expand those spaces to all parts of our University?

Student organizations strive to equip the campus community with the tools to deal with bullying of this nature, instead of allowing for frustration and confusion to persist. We work to promote awareness and prevent incidents such as Dephanie’s.

Numerous campus resources such as the Greenfield Intercultural Center, the Pan-Asian American Community House, Penn Women’s Center and Counseling and Psychological Services are available to listen to such stories. We collaborate on programming to discuss how these events affect our community and how to deal with such incidents constructively.

In response to Dephanie’s incident, we will be holding an event featuring Graduate School of Education professor Howard Stevenson. Please be on the look out for details of the event and email us if you are interested in attending.If you have any questions, please contact the Asian Pacific Student Coalition at chair@upennapsc.org and the United Minorities Council at unitedminoritiescouncil@gmail.com.

This column was jointly written by the Asian Pacific Student Coalition and the United Minorities Council.

It is signed by the Civic House Associates Coalition Chairs, College seniors Pallavi Podapati and Kenny Puk; the Fellowship for Building Intercultural Communities; College junior and Lambda Alliance Chair Hugh Hamilton; The Latino Coalition; Multicultural Greek Council Co-Presidents, Wharton junior Ashley Armstrong and College senior Jacqueline Baron; Penn Consortium of Undergraduate Women Chair and College senior Adrienne Edwards; Penn Political Coalition Chair, College senior Isabel Friedman; Director of the Race Dialogue Project, College sophomore Nadia Laher and UMOJA.

NewsBoard APSC
In the DP: Asian Pacific Student Coalition hosts speaker against Cambodian deportations

By Changhee Han | April 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm | via the Daily Pennsylvanian

While the issue of undocumented immigration has been widely debated throughout the Penn community recently, a more subtle question has been brought up for discussion on campus — the deportation of legal permanent residents.

The Asian Pacific Student Coalition recently hosted guest speakers from One Love Movement — a Philadelphia-based grassroots organization that advocates for humane immigration reform — as part of a growing effort to shed light on the deportation of Cambodian citizens in the city and around the world.

“We want our constituents to care about these issues that Asian Americans face, but it’s kind of hard since a lot of people are apathetic towards these issues,” College junior and APSC Vice Chair of External Affairs Jon Kim said.

When he was a sophomore, Kim met One Love community organizer and co-founder Mia-lia Kiernan at an event he had helped to organize for one of his Asian-American studies courses.

According to Kiernan, One Love was formed in 2010 in response to a dramatic rise of detention and deportation of legal Cambodians living in the U.S. Under current immigration laws, legal refugees who have any kind of criminal record are subject to deportation.

“A lot of Cambodian-Americans we’re fighting for are being deported for crimes they committed in the past when they were placed in an impoverished neighborhood that lacked health support and a well-equipped education system,” Kiernan said, referring to the mass influx of Southeast Asians to the United States following the upheaval caused by the Vietnam War.

College junior and President of the Chinese Students’ Association Anthony Tran, who has also taken an Asian-American studies course on immigration, commended One Love for raising awareness about these issues.

“When I first came to Penn, I really didn’t know much about these problems,” he said. “Grassroots movements like One Love help form a more contemporary look at immigration issues today.

He added, however, that there is no clear-cut solution to these problems.

“Immigration law is mired in a lot of bureaucracy and a lot of overlapping agendas from different individuals,” he explained. “From their standpoint, I can understand what they’re feeling — the process is unfair. But I also understand that the government has to handle thousands of these cases but can’t go through all of them individually.”

For Kim, the decision to invite One Love to campus was a move that he felt aligned with APSC’s core values. He said that “ultimately, the best thing we can do is just raise awareness about these issues.”

Kiernan, who has also established alliances with student groups from Temple University and other Philadelphia communities, hopes to further build on the organization’s relationship with the Penn community.

“Education is such a huge part of this struggle. When we think about this issue, it’s not about just immigration or immigration reform,” she said. “What we really need to think about is the importance of the educational system.”

NewsBoard APSC
In the DP: Student group seeks to combat bullying based on ethnicity

By Changhee Han | February 22, 2012 at 7:24 pm | via the Daily Pennsylvanian College junior Jonathan Kim was more than aware of the existence of bullying based on race and ethnicity.

But when Kim — who also serves as vice chair of external affairs for the Asian Pacific Student Coalition — observed that most of the current events he was writing about in APSC’s newsletter were gravitating toward news pieces about racially-charged attacks on Asian Americans, he realized he was looking at a problem far greater than what he had expected.

In light of an increasing trend of violence and bullying toward Asian Americans across the nation, the APSC — Penn’s umbrella organization for Asian student groups — recently started a campaign to raise awareness about racial bullying.

A study published at the end of last year showed that 54 percent of Asian students in American schools were bullied in the classroom, Kim said. Around 30 to 35 percent of students from other groups get bullied, according to the study.

The numbers hit particularly close to home, considering the 2009 controversy at nearby South Philadelphia High School, in which students conducted organized attacks against their Asian-American peers.

For various constituent leaders under APSC — like College junior and President of the Chinese Student Association Anthony Tran — this news story was a strong wake-up call.

“It’s jarring because you’re here at a school where it’s very diverse and tolerant; but in the same city, there’s a school that doesn’t have the same atmosphere we have here,” he said.

Wharton senior and President of the Vietnamese Student Association Minh Nguyen said that during one of the group’s general body meetings, student leaders conducted an exercise in which the moderator asked how many people were bullied for their race growing up, and more than half of the students in the room raised their hands.

Both Nguyen and Tran believe that raising awareness about these issues is a necessary step in the right direction.

“It’s beneficial to think about these topics and foster some discussion in terms of how to address it,” Tran said. “Whatever is going on isn’t going to stop on its own volition unless there’s a wider response.”

Engineering junior and APSC President Michelle Leong agreed.

“I was kind of shocked to hear these kinds of stories,” she said. “Maybe it was kind of idealistic to think that these types of events didn’t exist or that people werem’t being targeted specifically just because they were Asian.”

However, Leong added that the problem doesn’t apply exclusively to the classroom.

Bullying and violence toward Asian Americans has also extended to the United States military, where the recent high-profile case of Private Danny Chen — who committed suicide after being racially harassed by his fellow soldiers — drew national attention to racial prejudice within the armed forces.

In the Philadelphia area alone, there have been a string of attacks and robberies against Asian business owners in which authorities believe the victims were targeted because of their ethnicities.

For Leong, this has instilled a new mission for the APSC.

“Our primary purpose for this campaign is to raise awareness for all of these stories, nationally and locally,” she said.

While the anti-bullying initiative is still in its early stages, College junior and Vice Chair of Constituent Affairs for APSC Florence Sit listed tactics the organization will use. These include distributing flyers with student testimonials regarding bullying, as well as collaborating with SANGAM — a Pan-Asian discussion group — and the Pan-Asian American Community House to foster dialogue about these issues in an open forum, which will take place Thursday, Feb. 23.

“We’re trying to aim for this campaign to be more long-run,” Sit said. “We’re also in contact with South Philly High School students who were bullied to possibly talk at a general body meeting.”

Leong added that she hopes the campaign will derail the stereotype of the “model minority” — the idea that Asians do well in everything.

“There are so many people who are suffering who are different from the model image that people have of Asian Americans,” she said. “I just hope that this campaign, not only raises awareness on campus, but shows students who are targets of bullying that there is a support system in place on campus for them.”

NewsBoard APSC
In the DP: Asian American admissions bias under investigation at Harvard, Princeton

By Kyle Hardgrave | February 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm | via the Daily Pennsylvanian

A recent investigation into alleged discrimination against Asian-American college applicants has prompted discussion about admissions policies at Penn and throughout the Ivy League.

Last week, the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights began looking into whether Harvard and Princeton universities discriminate against Asian-American applicants in their admissions processes.

The investigation came in response to a complaint from an Asian-American student whose application was denied from both institutions. The student alleged that, in spite of high SAT scores and excellent grades, he was rejected because of his ethnicity.

Because of the nature of college admissions at elite institutions — being both highly subjective and competitive — it will be difficult for the OCR to “tease out” the question of outright discrimination, according to Penn Dean of Admissions Eric Furda.

Still, the case is raising questions both nationally and here at Penn about whether Asian-American students face higher standards in admissions, and what should be done about it.

At Penn and its peer schools, “we’re not discriminating against students or any class of students because of their background, whatever their background may be,” Furda said. “Extremely difficult decisions are made in what is a highly selective process.”

According to research conducted by Princeton professor Thomas Espenshade, however, admissions numbers bring to light several gaps between the bar of entry for Asian-American students and other applicants. In his book, No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life, Espenshade found that the average SAT score of Asian-American students was about 140 points higher than for other applicants, or a 3.4-point boost on the ACT composite.

Experts stress, though, that there’s much more to an applicant than grades and scores.

“Test scores are obviously only one part of the admissions decision, and so by themselves don’t say anything,” said David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

Michele Hernandez, president of Hernandez College Consulting, noted that other factors can still explain the gap in test scores.

“I think colleges unintentionally discriminate against Asians, in that a lot of the things they look for — like deep passion, love of learning, real go-getters — sometimes go against the Asian stereotype,” she said.

Still, she said, there is little question that Asian-Americans face extra difficulty — a feeling echoed among some Penn students.

“I think there’s a sense that, ‘because I’m Asian-American, I have to set myself above all the other Asian Americans,’” said College junior and Chinese Students’ Association President Anthony Tran.

Tran acknowledged that there are other components to college admissions that aren’t purely meritocratic, but he said this can be frustrating for applicants.

“There’s a narrative that if you do really well in high school, you can go anywhere,” he said. “If that doesn’t happen, that image is shattered.”

“It’s fair to hope for a meritocracy,” added College senior Nicky Singh, the former chair of the Asian Pacific Student Coalition. “Race is not something you can control, and I can see where the frustration comes from.”

But Singh, like many Asian-American student leaders, was sympathetic to the challenges admissions officers face in creating a diverse student body.

“When they put together a class,” he said, “they’re attempting to put together a mosaic, and they need all the puzzle pieces to fit together.”

Tran pointed to examples like the University of California system, which wholly did away with race-based considerations in its college admissions process in 1996. Soon after that time, the U.C. system’s Asian-American population soared to an all-time high of 40 percent, much higher than the proportion of the state population.

According to College sophomore and APSC Vice Chair of Political Affairs Nishat Shahabuddin, one concrete step that College Hall could take to improve understanding of how Asian Americans are treated in the admissions process would be to release better disaggregated admissions data for minorities and minority subgroups.

Ultimately, while Shahabuddin said it is impossible to tell whether there is bias in the admissions process without detailed data, she noted that the attention drawn by the OCR investigation would be positive.

“While I don’t know for sure that [Asian Americans] are discriminated against, I do think that it’s really important to at least give attention to issues like these,” she said.

NewsBoard APSC
In the DP: Asian Playboy talks about his career as a professional Casanova

By George Rosa | February 10, 2012 at 1:20 am | via the Daily Pennsylvanian The catalog of rakes, womanizers and pick-up artists typically unravels as such: Casanova, Don Juan, James Bond. Enter the “Asian Playboy,” JT Tran.

The Asian Pacific Student Coalition hosted Tran Thursday night in Huntsman Hall to address challenges and stereotypes facing Asian American men in the dating world.

College junior and APSC Communications Director Jessica Yan described the event as a forum for discussion of sensitive Asian cultural issues. She said she was “happy that people who often wouldn’t be interested in Asian issues came to the event, and got a deeper perspective on issues we face as Asian-Americans.”

The event filled a second-floor Huntsman classroom, drawing a crowd with equal numbers of males and females.

Shaohan Zhou, an international Drexel student from Beijing, had heard of the Asian Playboy in California and expected to hear advice “about how to meet people, how to be confident.”

Tran’s presentation launched into a host of cultural issues, drawing upon both statistical data and colorful anecdotes.

He touched on themes like the “bamboo ceiling” — the phenomenon describing corporate trends where Asians often have excellent representation in entry and middle-management jobs but not upper management.

In his more than two-hour talk, Tran also discussed experiences of both conscious racism and unconscious bias against Asians, cultural differences between Asians abroad and Asian-Americans, higher suicide rates among ethnic Asians in the military and statistics like how approximately 20 percent of Asian-American men never marry.

Tran described how he entered the relationship coaching industry. He graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology and became an aerospace engineer.

Dissatisfied with perpetual bachelorhood, Tran began adopting a scientific approach to increase his success in the social sphere. He started a blog geared towards dating from an Asian-American perspective.

Tran said his role as a dating guru “was forced upon” him, describing the fateful call he received one day from a Canadian woman who had discovered his blog.

She explained that Neo-Nazis had bullied her son for his entire high school career, stinting his social development. She had hoped to enlist Tran to increase the youth’s self-esteem and social adroitness.

The woman flew Tran northward, put him up in a hotel and paid him to serve as positive role model and “big brother” to her son.

Tran’s first client has now graduated college and is in a serious relationship.

There was some controversy surrounding the playboy’s appearance, however.

An anonymous poster on the Pan-Asian American Community House Tumblr page wrote, “the whole jt tran talk is disgusting. so disgusting. so disappointed in our student body.”

Another agreed, criticizing APSC for “spending their budget on bringing in controversial speakers for the sake of ‘generating interesting debate’ when they could be bringing in role models and community activists.”

Tran responded, “I believe I am a positive role model. My solutions are simple, effective and not necessarily politically correct.” These are issues that no one else addresses or has a solution to, he said.

This story has been updated to reflect that Jessica Yan is the APSC Vice Chair of Communications, not the APSC Communications Director.

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In Penn Current: White House briefs students on Asian-American youth issues

By Jeanne Leong | January 13, 2012 | via Penn Current Some Penn student leaders got a lesson in activism by attending a meeting in Washington, DC on the Obama administration’s agenda for Asian-American and Pacific Islander youth.

Fourteen Penn students attended a daylong summit in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next door to the White House, on Jan. 12 for a Youth Leadership Briefing.

The meeting brought together approximately 200 student leaders from universities and high schools across the nation to hear about President Obama’s initiatives on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, discuss possible future programs, and share information about activism on their campuses.

“It’s a great chance for us to learn more from each other and bring back our experience to Penn,” says Michelle Leong, a junior in Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and chair of Penn’s Asian Pacific Student Coalition, the umbrella organization for 19 groups representing the interests of the Asian Pacific American community.

“After hearing all these stories from a lot of different students, I feel more inspired to do more work on behalf of those who aren’t able to express their opinions or stories as openly as others, or don’t have the opportunities as we do here at Penn,” says Leong.

Before this meeting, some students weren’t aware of the President’s agenda for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“The connections will help us because this is another resource we can tap into,” says Shawn Chen, also a junior in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. “One of the speakers was a Penn alum, and they said they would be happy to come to Penn to hold a workshop on student activism. That’s definitely something we’d like to make use of.”

Chen says the meeting inspired him to encourage fellow students to become activists.

“There are a lot of things that won’t happen during your time [on campus]. You have to pass along that information and make sure there are other people you can reach out to and say, ‘This is a really important issue on campus.’ You have to fight for these issues because change doesn’t happen overnight.”

The students hope the dialogue started at this meeting will continue. Obama administration organizers discussed holding regional meetings in the future.

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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.

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In the DP: Groups plan for ARCH renovation

By Karen Aquino | November 27, 2011 at 11:05 pm | via the Daily Pennsylvanian Some people use it as a study space, others use it as a hangout spot, and some even use its leather couches for a nap in between classes. As the home for three main cultural centers on campus — Makuu Black Cultural Center, La Casa Latina, and the Pan-Asian American Community House — as well as the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, the ARCH building plays a central role in campus life.

“It’s like a home away from home,” College senior Charley Ma said. “People come here in between classes to hang out, and there’s always other people to talk with.”

The familial and welcoming atmosphere of the building, which groups together the three cultural centers on the first floor with a central lobby, is unique among other, more formal, campus buildings.

The activity level oscillates throughout the day. When it’s quiet, students whisper to each other as people sit studying or napping on the couches in the lobby. At its loudest, laughter and music can be heard coming from each of the cultural centers, sometimes in different languages.

“It represents a safe space, a home for students to come to when they feel like they need somewhere to go,” Engineering junior Michelle Leong said. “There are always people willing to talk, people to interact with and learn from, especially with the cultural centers here all together,” added Leong, who was recently elected as Chair of the Asian Pacific Student Coalition.

As preparations continue for the ARCH building’s renovations, slated to start in May 2012 and end in December 2013, there have been concerted efforts to preserve the building’s character while maximizing the use of the space available, according to Rob Nelson, executive director for education and academic planning in the Provost’s Office.

“We’re doing our best to minimize the disruption [on student life]. Having the cultural centers relocated to a place that is central on campus is really important to us,” Nelson said.

As a temporary location for the building’s centers continues to be finalized, there are already ample discussions going on regarding how the new, updated space will be used.

“The architects have been meeting frequently with students and staff to ensure that the renovated space meets the needs of Penn’s diverse community,” Senior Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Ajay Nair wrote in an email.

The committees, which will all involve students, include an art gallery and programming committee and a space reservations committee, Nair continued. Both committees will discuss how to best use the new spaces available in the renovated building.

“There are so many different things we want to do with the space, and because it’s historically protected, we have boundaries — we can’t do everything we want to do,” 1998 Wharton graduate and associate director of Makuu Daina Richie-Troy explained.

“That said, I think we’ve come to a good conclusion, in terms of how to best use the space for everyone involved, especially the students,” she added. “I think they’re going to make out the best, in terms of the technology and room usage that’s going to be changed.”

While the renovations will require the centers to move out of their current spaces by May of next year, these changes are welcome for a building that was built in 1927.

“We’d like the roof to not keep falling on us,” CURF Assistant Director for Communication Aaron Olson said.

The renovations and additions to the building — which, among other things, will add an elevator for handicap access — are “eminently practical and the building desperately needs it,” Olson said.

“We’re setting up a space that will ensure that we have the same traffic and camaraderie that we have now. It’ll be difficult to replicate the lobby right now, but we’re going to do our best,” Troy said.

After the renovations, CURF’s offices will move to the south side of the 2nd and 3rd floors of the ARCH, according to Olson. The cultural centers will be on the ground floor of the building, which is currently a sparsely used basement that can only be accessed from inside the building.

In order to maximize access to the ground floor housing the cultural centers, an entrance will be constructed on 36th Street that will lead directly into the space. The space will resemble the ground floor of Houston Hall and College Hall in terms of accessibility to the public, Nelson said.

During homecoming weekend, a panel was held to update alumni on the renovations taking place and to get their input on the plans.

“There are still a lot of opportunities for alumni to be involved, in terms of donating and naming gifts, but then there’s also a recognition that both the building and the cultural centers and CURF are really important parts of Penn students’ experiences. There are alums who are invested in the centers, and we want to make sure that we’re communicating to them [information] about the project,” Nelson said.

Kaneesha Parsard, a 2011 College graduate, noted the dynamic nature of the building as she experienced it during her time at Penn.

“If the University can maintain its commitment to the cultural centers as an anchor for student life, not just for people that belong to the groups served by the student center but as a hub for broad learning and activism, then I think that the cultural center spaces will maintain their integrity,” Parsard said.

Alumni remain attached to the building after graduation. Even today, some come back looking for the Christian Association, which formerly owned the ARCH Building until the University purchased it in 1999.

“I’ve gotten to see people grow up here, and not even only people in Makuu, but everyone who comes through the building,” Troy said. “There’s something about this space that is very special and that allows you to see people develop as students and as leaders.”

Kathleen Robinson, the security guard who has worked at the building for the past three years, shares a similar rapport with the students that come to the building to socialize, hold student group meetings or to work.

“Around Christmas time, I try to bring something for each group, since they feed me at their events throughout the year,” Robinson laughed.

Robinson —who buys tickets to the performances of the various groups that practice in the building, including Penn Lions and the New Spirit of Penn Gospel Choir — enjoys the welcoming nature of her workplace.

“I know everybody that comes in and out of here, and I miss the students when they graduate. But then I enjoy getting to know the new ones that come in,” she said.

With the building’s impending closure in May, student groups that make use of the building will have to relocate their meetings and practices throughout campus.

“The next two years [during the closure of the ARCH building] are going to be hard on students … We just have to hope for the best,” Robinson said.

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In the DP: 'Community' star Danny Pudi discusses mixed ethnicity

By Allison Bart | November 4, 2011 at 12:13 am | via the Daily Pennsylvanian There are three things NBC Community star Danny Pudi wants you to know:Indiana Jones is his favorite movie, he has abnormally large irises so you should feel free to stare deeply into his eyes and he may or may not be left-handed.

This was the message that was announced before Pudi ran in yelling and giving high-fives to the large group of students last night in the sold-outARCH auditorium. He took a short amount of time to set up his slide show, taking a break to yell “Pokémon!” to the cheering audience.

College freshman Laura Doherty was ecstatic about Pudi’s visit. “When I saw the email, I peed in my pants and knew immediately that this was the event of the semester,” she said.

To begin Penn Sangam’s Chai House event — co-hosted by the Asian Pacific Student Coalition — there were performances by Bloomers and Simply Chaos while students chowed down on pad Thai and cups of chai tea.

“Sangam is an organization that raises awareness about Asian-American issues,” Penn Sangam President and College senior Mansi Kothari said. “The reason we brought Danny Pudi is because he has an Asian-American background, so he sort of represents a minority.”

After Pudi took to the podium, he imitated his mother’s Polish accent and his father’s Indian accent. “Both of those voices are part of my identity,” he said. From a complex math equation to explaining how rare he is to dancing along to a traditional Polish dance, he was able to describe how he always felt a bit out of place growing up.

After his dad left when he was 3 years old, Pudi lacked exposure to his Indian heritage. “I realized when I was older that even though I identified myself as Polish, I was perceived as Indian.”

However, Pudi realized that there are a lot of benefits to his unique identity. “I have also been given excellent material for racist jokes,” Pudi said before jumping into a few.

Kothari appreciated Pudi’s integration of comedy and his ethnicity. “I guess what’s great about what he did is that we were expecting him to do comedy, but he made it really personal and he brought in aspects of his mixed heritage into his act,” Kothari said.

With such a diverse upbringing, Pudi met many characters throughout his life. As he stuck on a fake mustache, he explained how these characters made him fascinated with impersonations.

After imitating Batman to prove his range, he explained how he tries to avoid stereotypes. “But I have played four Sanjays,” Pudi said. “Maybe when people look at me, all they see is Sanjay.”

“That’s my show,” Pudi said after screening a video of him asking people to guess his ethnicity.

Moving into a question-and-answer session, many people asked Pudi about life on the set of his show. “I just try to get into Abed’s world for a little bit,” Pudi said. “Then Ken Jeong comes in naked and I’m like, ‘This is work?’”

One of the highlights of the night, which got the crowd roaring, was his “¿Donde está la biblioteca?” rap, one of his favorite segments as Abed with his best friend on the show, Troy.

“I thought it was hilarious, as he usually is,” Engineering freshman Hamza Qaiser said while waiting in line for the meet-and-greet. “I thought having him here as an intercultural speaker was a good idea because that’s a side you don’t really see of him.”

Kothari was similarly pleased with the turnout and the event as a whole. “Danny Pudi was great,” she said. There was an overwhelmingly positive response from the audience, which resulted in two hours of laughter and interaction with Pudi. Many students identified with his humorous stories of his unusual upbringing.

“I’m brown, I sing Polish Christmas carols and my parents met at a YMCA,” Pudi said. “That is my identity.”

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