AASU changes approach, supports more events with affiliated groups

The Asian American Student Union has been viewed by some in the past as “distant,” but this year AASU plans to repair this reputation through further involvement with its affiliate organizations, said AASU president, George Yeh.

“We have a lot of myths to debunk. Like, AASU’s not approachable or what even is AASU?” AASU’s Vice President of Programming Boosaba Pananon said.

For this reason, AASU plans to hold its first ever general body meetings this semester where all members of AASU’s affiliate groups can socialize and discuss issues, said Yeh, a senior physiology and neurobiology major.

Part of this negative attitude toward AASU stems from misunderstandings about the organization, President of the Chinese Student Association Mary Feng, a senior psychology and marketing double major, said.

“AASU is the umbrella group that encompasses all the Asian American groups together really,” explained Feng.

Large collaborative events in the Asian Pacific American community will still occur as they have in the past, like F.U.E.L, a leadership conference, and APA1, a variety show allowing APAs to showcase similarities and differences between cultures.

But AASU is also promoting a new goal: to unite and ignite the APA community, Pananon said.

AASU plans to unite the APA community through the general body meetings and through holding more social events like “Dish Network,” a large potluck-dinner-style event on Oct. 23, AASU Vice President of External Affairs Tiffany Yee, a finance and marketing major, said.

“Dish Network” will be held only days before the university’s diversity forum, which AASU and its affiliate groups plan to attend and participate. AASU wants to make its resources more available, like its connections with the Asian American Studies professors, with whom AASU will be holding a meet and greet this fall.

AASU also wants to be a support to APA groups, like the up-and-coming chapter of the Society for Asian Scientists and Engineers, said AASU Vice President of Finance, David Toledo, a sophomore finance, international business and kinesiological sciences major.

As far as motivating students, Yeh said he wants other students to gain the same leadership skills that he gained through AASU.

“So many of the things I learned in AASU translated into skills I used in my internship, in the ‘real world.’”  Yeh said.

The AASU board wants to focus more on outreach and building social connections with its affiliate groups this year, which it has done in the past through its “buddy group system,” Coordinator for APA Student Involvement and Advocacy Dharma Naik wrote in an e-mail.

Although AASU has been planning some outreach by attending events of other groups like the Black Student Union and Latino Student Union, AASU plans to focus on bettering relationships with affiliate groups first and with the Student Government Association, said Yee.

AASU has already had more involvement with the SGA this year as President Steven Glickman attended AASU’s retreat in Edgewater during the summer, said Glickman.

AASU has been trying for years to become more involved with its affiliate groups but “every year we get bogged down with programming,” Yeh said.

He said he hopes to counteract this issue by having less events, but better-quality events.

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