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Retrospect 1988: ASU Merge Promotes Unity Among Asians

ASU Merge Promotes Unity Among Asians

THE FOREMOST PURPOSE OF THE ASIAN ORGANIZATIONS ON THIS CAMPUS IS TO EDUCATE THE POPULOUS ON OUR CULTURES, thus helping to relieve any discrimination or segregation that stems from ignorance. In addition, these organizations address the cultural, educational, and recreational needs of Asian students. We also strive to educate ourselves as well as non-Asians about the Asian identity. Since the Chinese American Student Union was founded in 1971, five other Asian organizations have been established: the Korean Student Association, the Asian Student Union, China Night, and two additional Chinese graduate organizations. Due to lack of funds and a lack of unifying goals, these organizations never attained their highest potential and moreover, could not keep the majority of their members interested.

They were caught in a vicious cycle. Because their budgets were so small, they could not afford to sponsor quality events, such as the Dith Pran lecture. Since the members had to settle for lower-quality programming, they gradually lost interest and stopped coming to the events. In order to prevent this, the Asian organizations needed a substantial increase in their budgets, but never received it. Each year, the Student Association would allot a small increase towards their existing budgets because it was felt that since the events were not well attended, why should more money be given to sponsor them? Furthermore, the SA saw that these groups were not very strong because they were not united and few members were actively involved. Consequently, the same thing happened year after year. Low budgets sponsored low-quality programs, causing the members to become disinterested. As a result, the budgets remained low and the groups remained weak.

Last year, the executive boards of CASU, KSA, and ASU decided to implement some changes in order to strengthen the Asian organizations and to get out of that vicious cycle. At the beginning of the year, they urged their members to run for the position of “SA representative” for their dorms. Since there was very little Asian representation in the Student Assembly, this was vital to raising the budget of the Asian organizations.

Later on, near the end of the semester, CASU persuaded the two graduate organizations, the Chinese Student Association and the Student Association of the People’s Republic of China, to give up their SA charters and merge with CASU. In exchange, 7.5 percent of CASU’s funding would go towards co-sponsorship with CSA and 15 percent would go towards co-sponsorship with SAPRC because these groups still had their graduate charters.

Soon after, the executive boards of CASU, KSA, and ASU decided to join forces and fight for a larger increase of the ASU budget. Members of the three groups went to their SA dorm reps to discuss the Asian organizations’ predicament and tried to persuade them to vote in our favor. At the meeting, the room was full of Asians who came to show their support for the effort to increase the ASU budget to the amount that the other minority groups were receiving. After ASU’s request, one of the SA reps motioned for an increase of $6,000, which was met with heavy opposition. A heated two and a half hour debate concerning the size of the increase followed, but in the end, the motion was passed and ASU got their long-awaited and well deserved increase in funds.

The executive boards and other members met a week later to discuss merging CASU, KSA, China Night and ASU. Some major concerns were (1) whether CASU or KSA would lose their identities, (2) whether the merge would be a successful, lasting one, (3) the budgets of the committees, and (4) how new committees representing other Asian groups would be accommodated. After five meetings, each lasting about four hours, it was decided that the Chinese American Student Union, China Night and the Korean Student Association would merge to form a new Asian Student Union. A new constitution was drafted and ratified by the SA in May.

Under the new constitution, there is only one Asian organization, the Asian Student Union, which is comprised of two committees; the Chinese American Student Union and the Korean Student Union Committee. We are aware that not all Asians on this campus are Chinese or Korean. To accommodate other interested Asian groups, for example, the Japanese, the Filipinos or the Vietnamese, the constitution has a line addressing the starting of other committees in ASU. As of now, the constitution requires that 40 percent of the ASU budget be used to sponsor events that concern Asians as a whole.

The fight to increase our budget and the ASU merge did not concern only money. Last year, Asians comprised 8.9 percent of the student population, while Black students

The ASU budget was only $430, compared to the Black Students Union’s $14,030, the Latin American Student Union’s $13,050, and the Jewish Student Union’s $12,235. In fact, the combined Asian budget was only $3,730 (ASU - $430, CASU -$1600, KSA - $1700). comprised 6.9% and Latin American students, only 6.2 percent. However, the ASU budget was only $430, compared to the Black Students Union’s $14,030, the Latin American Student Union’s $13,050, and the Jewish Student Union’s $12,235. In fact, the combined Asian budget was only $3,730 (ASU - $430, CASU -$1600, KSA - $1700). By giving the Asian organizations budgets that were not large enough to even sponsor a major speaker, the SA indirectly discriminated against Asians.

The $6,000 budget increase and the ASU merge gives the Asian Student Union new strength and respect. As the saying goes, “There is strength in unity.” One large Asian voice is more powerful than five small ones.

Finally, I would like to stress how important this year is. Many people do not agree that the ASU deserves their $6,000 budget increase and would willingly and easily take it away. Other people feel that the ASU merge is in name only, and that CASU and KSA will remain separate. If our members do not become involved this year, then the money that we worked so hard to get will go to waste. It will be taken away from us next year. Not only will the ASU look bad, but the SA will be more reluctant about giving us any more money and moreover, will never take the ASU seriously again.