Archive for April, 2009

Our YCC Endorsement….Not!

April 14, 2009

~Peter Lu, BK ’11

AASA would love to endorse for YCC elections (we really would) but there’s a bit of a conflict of interest. The number of Asian Americans running, especially those who have served on previous AASA boards before, might skew our judgment, so we’re not going to give our opinions. We will, though, go straight to the source: We’ve asked the candidates how they would increase collaboration with the Asian American community. Below are the responses, from the President and Secretary positions (note that VP and Treasurer are more internal positions, and thus have little relevance to AASA):

The YCC in past years have had no tangible connection to the cultural communities at Yale. What planks in your platform would you say benefit the Asian American / general ethnic community?

And our responses, in order of them being received:

Ryan Beauchamp, Presidential Candidate:

One of the central goals of my platform is to establish a liaison program that would assign YCC representatives to be in regular communication with cultural organizations, such as AASA, (as well as other student groups on campus) so that we can get your feedback and learn about what we can do for you guys in the future. Next year will be a particularly important year for the YCC to be in regular communication with AASA, as the YCDO’s peer liaison program is put into place. Together, it will be our job to ensure that this is a sufficient replacement for the ethnic counselor position that will be eliminated next year.

More generally, I think the liaison program I have laid out will be an important step in improving the relationship between YCC and student groups that haven’t had much contact in past years, so that YCC can better fulfill its role of representing students here on campus. Simply put, the YCC has important resources that could be better taken advantage of if the YCC is working alongside Yale’s student organizations, and I hope to make that a reality next year.

Jonathan Wu, Presidential Candidate:

The YCC needs to take a stance on student issues beyond just creating a liaison program (a course which was already attempted by the 07-08 board). Liaisons to student groups are great in theory, but in reality simply create a channel of communication that isn’t enough to facilitate conversation.  After all, students may already go to their college representatives or directly to executive board with grievances, suggestions, and ideas. Instead of symbolically extending an invitation to talk, we need to first actively reach out and engage cultural groups in dialogue, then follow through with action.
We serve as the direct representation of the students, and one of the benefits of the YCC is that our representatives include a wide variety of Yale students, encompassing many different cultures and interests. I hope to work with groups such as the Minority Advisory Council and cultural organizations to host productive discussion forums. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an AASA Forum (“Delving into Performance, Jokes, and Stereotypes”), and as a member of the comedy community, it was really insightful for me to hear individual student opinions on what was and was not deemed to be appropriate in comedy concerning race. With our reach to the greater Yale community, YCC can provide greater participation and immediacy to such causes. YCC has not only the ability, but the responsibility to work with student groups to address concerns. Finally, we can better utilize our direct ties to the administration to advise an institutional response when necessary.
As a former board member of AASA, an African American Studies major, and someone who has been involved in many aspects of cultural life here at Yale, I will continue to be dedicated to promoting cultural understanding and diversity on campus. I want to reach out and involve cultural groups, not just by assigning liaisons, but by proactively meeting with groups and seeing how the YCC can aid their efforts.

The Secretaries:

Mike Bronfin, Secretary Hopeful:

With its merger with YSAC next year, the YCC will be increasing the projects it will be held responsible for. Given this momentous change, it will be essential that YCC finds a way to increase its productivity, as we will not be expanding our size as a council.

One possible way of overcoming this challenge is to involve student groups in activities and issues which they have an interest or expertise in. This is a win-win situation: YCC benefits from student groups’ specialization, and student groups benefit from the YCC’s role as the voice of the student body.

Next year’s YCC Secretary will have a major role in this initiative of bringing YCC and student groups together, as this position is responsible for YCC’s communications…I plan as YCC Secretary to use my experience…to insure that student groups play a prominent role in most major projects the YCC chooses to take on. In regards to AASA, I would look forward to hearing the group’s ideas on possible initiatives for the YCC, and I would make sure to involve the organization in projects that would be of its interest. Moreover, I would be open to having the YCC help promote awareness of certain key issues that AASA and other cultural centers believe are of importance for the entire Yale community. This could be carried out by our extensive advertising abilities, as well as our close connection with the Yale administration.

Rustin Fakeri, Secretary Hopeful:

One of the first events I attended over Bulldog Days was the buffet in the AACC, and it was a great experience.  I recognize how strong a role the cultural centers play on campus, and how integral they are to student life, and as Secretary, I would definitely support the centers and the diversity in background and outlook they represent.

I have enjoyed working on the YCC this year, and I think it accomplished a lot.  One thing it has not done very well, however, is communicating effectively with the student body.  In improving this as Secretary next year, I think I will create opportunities for other campus organizations to flourish, as well.

One of my main ideas as Secretary is to turn The Chaser, the YCC’s new biweekly newsletter, into a weekly digest of the YCC’s activity and student activities on campus e-mailed to the student body, with one sentence blurbs and contact information for students interested in getting involved in each.  This new approach to The Chaser, in which I would publish contact information for students to get involved in YCC initiatives, is one way in which I hope to engage the student body in the YCC.

In addition to publicizing information about YCC and campus activities, I also plan to solicit agenda items from the general student body and encourage students to attend our weekly YCC meetings whenever they are interested in the agenda.  I think this is the most important change I plan to enact — I can spend my entire term pursuing issues that I think concern the student body, and I would accomplish a lot, but we would accomplish so much more by empowering students to say what issues concern them and invite those students to join the YCC in pursuing those issues.  I have seen how effective our cooperation with the LGBT Coop on campus has been on the issue of gender-neutral housing, and I want the YCC to continue to partner with campus organizations, and I would love for the cultural centers to be among those partners…A safer Yale would encourage more students to leave the center of campus to travel to events at the cultural centers.

I also hope to serve as a liaison between students and student organizations and the administration, especially when there are issues with funding and organization regulations. Though I know that many cultural centers have their own deans, there may still come times when, for whatever reason, the dean is unable or unwilling to help with a certain issue, which is where I would come in.  Moreover, I plan to consolidate the information from the Dean’s Office, YCC, and UOFC into one webpage, as well as streamline room reservations and funding applications online. I have web development experience, and I am confident that I will be able to keep the YCC’s website informative, up-to-date, and visually appealing.

Reese Faust, Secretary Hopeful:

I honestly believe that all student groups need their connections to and combined events with the YCC need more visibility on campus. I think relying on Facebook is a fairly lazy way to spread the word of events and talks, because they can get lost in the mass media that is Facebook. I think that by utilizing more physical representation in the form of students who are passionate about their organization and willing to make themselves visible through conspicuous advertisement of events, groups can achieve greater visibility and hopefully greater success.

Victoria Gilcrease, Secretary Hopeful:

No response.

One of our member groups, CASA, has endorsed Jon Wu SY’11, Abigail Cheung TD’11, and Murong Yang PC’12. Be sure to vote before Tuesday night at 9pm!

Helen Zia, Famous Activist, Coming to Yale

April 12, 2009

Yale! AASA’s big political event for the semester is famous Asian American activist Helen Zia. If you haven’t heard of her, you will in these next two weeks. She’s going to be giving a Masters Tea and Conversations Dinner on April 23rd, so stop by! Want to know more? Jin Kim, our Co-Political Action and Education Chair, PC’11, has more:

helen-zia1

In February, the Political Action and Education Committee (PAEC) of the Asian American Students Alliance hosted a screening of ‘Who Killed Vincent Chin’, a documentary that recounts the 1982 brutal murder of Vincent Chin by two white men in Detroit, Michigan. Although the murder was a hate crime, the attackers received light sentencing because it pre-dated hate crime laws in the United States. The documentary featured an interview with Ms. Helen Zia, who played a crucial role as a social activist to bring justice in Chin’s murder case. Ms. Zia’s outspoken attitude immediately drew the audience’s attention, and many attendees at the screening expressed extremely strong interest and enthusiasm to have a chance to speak to Ms. Zia about her experiences.

In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in April, PAEC is pleased to have Ms. Zia as our guest speaker. At a Berkeley master’s tea on Thursday, April 23rd, Ms. Zia will shares her personal observations and stories about bringing diverse communities together for social justice. We believe that Ms. Zia’s experiences as an Asian American activist who has actively
participated in various civil rights movements will attract a diverse group of students with various backgrounds and interests.

Ms. Zia was born in New Jersey to first generation immigrants from Shanghai, China. She entered Princeton University in the early 1970s and was a member of its first graduating class of women. As a student, Zia was among the founders of the Asian American Students Association. She was also a vocal anti-war activist, voicing her Opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, and a firm believer in feminism.

Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, books and anthologies. Ms. Zia has been outspoken on issues ranging from civil rights and peace to women?s rights and countering hate violence and homophobia. In 1997, she testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on the racial impact of the news media. Last February, she led a demonstration in San Francisco protesting California’s recently enacted discriminatory legislations against the LGBTQ community, and she testified before the California Supreme Court following the demonstration.

She currently resides in the California Bay Area with her partner. The pair was married in San Francisco in 2004 and again in 2008.

The Berkeley master’s tea featuring Ms. Zia will take place at 4 pm on Thursday, April 23rd. The tea will be followed by an intimate dinner/conversation event at 6pm at the Asian American Cultural Center, 295 Crown Street.

The Alder Candidates Give AASA Their Views…

April 10, 2009

A week ago, AASA asked the 3 candidates running for alderman to give us their views on a New Haven issue near and dear to them. Here are their responses–a day before the registration deadline to vote! If you haven’t registered, be sure to pick up a form from the Yale Dems or other groups on campus. Heck, tell us, and we’ll hook you up.

Katie Harrison:

On April 2, I attended a community workshop on the Municipal Development Plan for Route 34, which will be a huge and incredibly transformative development project when it is finished. At the meeting, a group of “Concerned New Haven Citizens” presented a letter of disappointment about the depth of participation made available to residents. It concludes with appropriate urgency:

“We must get this right. We cannot miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to mend the wounds of the past and recreate community. A hasty and poorly vetted plan lead to the creation of this scar on our landscape – we cannot make the same mistake in our efforts to heal it.”

We urgently need responsible development in our city, as this letter articulates so clearly, and all the projects in the pipeline provides the opportunity to get the process right. The Board of Aldermen’s 2004 resolution supporting community-benefits agreements provides a realistic and exciting framework for what responsible economic development can look like. As Thursday’s workshop demonstrates, though, we need to do more to realize that vision, and we can still do it right on Route 34. My first priority as alderwoman will be to ensure that community members, who are incredible and necessary resources, get more than token inclusion in the planning process.

Minh Tran:

I have come to know New Haven mainly through my work with the children and youth of this city. I have worked with students at 7 different schools and spent two summers with the children here. Through these experiences, I have come to understand how the economic conditions of New Haven affect the circumstances in which my students live. In an economic downturn, one of most powerful and realistic ways a municipality can grow and sustain a healthy economy is through the recruitment and retention of small businesses. We support the nourishment of a strong entrepreneurial spirit in New Haven. We will lobby for Community Development Block Grants to support organizations that are dedicated to helping citizens start and grow small businesses. We also will work on streamlining city resources for individuals wishing to begin the process of establishing a new business. And we hope to identify a point person in the city for these individuals so that there is a clear starting point in an otherwise intimidating process, a person who will explain the steps and the available resources. With a vigorous economy, we can restore social services we have had to cut due to large budget deficits.

Mike Jones:

On Tuesday, the other aldermanic candidates and I had our fourth and final debates. Among other topics, we talked about one issue that is particularly important to me: building safer, more sustainable streets. Our streets should be built in a way that makes them accommodates more than just cars; they must be safe options for bikers and pedestrians as well. Right now, too many streets (especially in downtown) encourage dangerous, excessive driving. We have many wide, one-way streets that allow drivers to navigate our roads at excessively high speeds, at the expense of many bikers and pedestrians.

Instead, I would like to see narrower two-way streets with raised crosswalks (which would cause drivers to slow down and drive more carefully), increased striping to prevent cars from parking too close to the sidewalks (which limits visibility), and better development of an interconnected network of bike lanes that could take bikers all across the city on safer, more sustainable streets.

Fortune Cookies!

April 7, 2009

One week into Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, 13 events have already happened (including Islam Awareness Week, 2 Cultural Shows, 2 Master’s Teas, and a Bone Marrow Registration Drive) and a little over 3000 fortune cookies have already been eaten!

With just a couple of the dining halls still carrying them, it’s time to reveal the 11 different factoids that the different cultural groups have submitted. Keep the slip if you have the India language one–we’ll announce what the fabulous prize is on this blog! Love, AASA

fortune-cookie

After Spanish, Chinese is the most widely spoken non-English language in the U.S.

You can legally be ‘excluded’ from any region…based on your race. -Korematsu v. US

Chinese Americans top three occupations: cooks, software developers, administrators

2004 Taiwanese Presidential Election: 10000 Taiwanese Americans traveled home to vote

76% of Asian Americans voted for Obama; it decreases to 30% for Vietnamese Americans

There are three Asian Americans in Obama’s Cabinet-Locke, Chu and Shinseki (and now Koh!)

40% of Asian Americans live around Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City

In the University of California system, Asian Americans are the largest ethnicity group

15% of Asian American Women have been victim to domestic violence

The 1961 Census of India recognized 1,652 languages!

The 2000 Census reports an Asian American population of 11.9 million

Inter-racial Dating At Yale: It is even possible?

April 7, 2009

What do girls want? Someone that can make them laugh. That’s one of the lessons that came out of the BSAY-AASA-Alpha Phi Alpha-dating panel at Yale on March 23rd. The first part of an ongoing conversation series, the discussion delved into topics from ‘what a girl wants’ to how much political factors should play a role in determining who to go out with. The beginning of the panel was quite a sight to see: at 7:10pm, there were just seven males, and we were prepared to bro out. Alas, the females showed up quickly after, and by the end there were over 25 people discussing these issues.

The number one take away from my experience? Be receptive to the possibility of flirting with those of a different race. Hardly anyone in the room had ever dated interracially. The general consensus? When you’re talking with a person of a different race, it’s very hard to distinguish or determine whether they are romantically interested. Add other confounding factors: people of different race flirt in different ways (encompassing body language, facial expressivity, and dialogue), hardly anyone is on the lookout for inter-racial flirting, people lack of confidence departing from social norms-and inter-racial dating becomes difficult. While some people had experience, their success was because they made sure they were open to the idea in the first place, and took the initiative to engage the opposite gender in a way that made their intentions clear (with subtlety, nevertheless).

Some other assorted thoughts from the dating panel: there is no right answer as to whether post on a wall, or send a message on facebook as the first form of communication after a meeting. Though in this writer’s personal opinion, the wall is the way to go. Dating at Yale is difficult because too many people are focused on getting their own life in order, and don’t want to be in a relationship (or so it seems). Issues of gender and race come into play through no explicit channels, but implicit barriers that prevent mixing from commonly occurring. Finally, there is no clear distinction between who a ‘creeper’ is and who isn’t, and the word is used too loosely to define an individual who maybe is just a little eager in getting to know someone.

While the poster for the event promised to ask ‘questions that everyone had but no one asked’, an hour and a half was hardly time to get through 3 or 4 topics. We will be collaborating in the future to bring part 2 of the series; stay tuned to the AASA announcements for more information!