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February 28, 2018

Residential Student Congress Calls for Creation of Asian and Asian American Housing Area

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The Residential Student Congress called for the creation of an Asian and Asian-American cultural residential area consisting of one floor in a residence hall by passing a resolution in a Monday meeting, according to a Facebook post.

The resolution encouraged the University to consider establishing a “living learning unit” where “Asian & Asian-American individuals [can] connect with their peers, their heritage, and their cultural community.”

The resolution must be approved by Ryan Lombardi, the vice president for student and campus life, before becoming reality, according to Shivani Parikh ’18, resolution sponsor and president of the South Asian Council.

Parikh is optimistic that the University will respond favorably to the resolution, given President Martha Pollack’s recent endorsement of a S.A. resolution requesting the establishment of a queer-inclusive program house.

“President Pollack and the administration were very supportive of the queer community’s passage of legislation [for] their residential space,” Parikh said. “So I do believe that she will support the Asian-American community as well.”

Parikh and Savanna Lim ’21, Student Assembly freshman representative at-large, aim to introduce an S.A. resolution this Thursday to “promote solidarity” with other people of color on campus.

“I think it’ll add more weight to the resolution,” Lim wrote. “I feel like Asian-American-related issues get pushed aside sometimes [or] are not really put in the spotlight.”

An example that Lim gave for issues that get pushed aside was the “the movement to make Asian American Studies a major,” referring to a S.A. resolution calling for its establishment.

Then–acting president, Provost Michael Kotlikoff acknowledged the resolution, but ultimately decided against creating an AAS major because the University lacked the resources to hire the faculty needed for its implementation.

Kianna Early ’18, RSC president, said that the recent racial incidents on campus and the University’s plan to expand North Campus motivated them to push for cultural housing for students of Asian descent.

“We have been planning this for a long time. With the upcoming north campus expansion and the racial incidents last semester, we feel like now is a good time to introduce it,” Early said.

She said the Asian cultural residential area, if established, will “serve similar function” to Asian-interest fraternities and sororities.

“There’s not really a big difference between the Asian house and the current Asian-interested fraternities and sororities,” Early said. “The only difference might be living on or off campus.”

Emily Lin ’20, however, saw the proposed living learning unit as “just another housing option.”

“In fact, I wouldn’t want to live in a bubble,” Lin told The Sun.

Steven Li ’21, on the other hand, said that a cultural residential area is a “good idea” that would provide support for spring-admit students of Asian descent like him, who are fresh on campus and are looking to connect with people with the same identity.

“I don’t think Asian community gets enough support for spring admits,” Li said. “Many Asian societies don’t let people join until the fall, so it’s definitely hard for spring-admits to bond with their peers.”

While it is still unclear whether the University will establish the cultural residential area, Parikh has already expressed hope that the living learning unit will one day expand from a single floor to an entire building.

“In terms of equivalents at other universities, one floor is more so the norm,” Parikh said. “But the Latino Living Center started out as one floor and evolved into the full program house it is today, so there is the potential for that actuality for the Asian-American community as well!”