Asa Daniels, senior staff writer
A new group on campus for students who identify as Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) is having an interest meeting on Thursday, Oct. 14 at 11:00 a.m. in Krannert 324. The new group’s faculty advisor is Brian Carroll, chair of the communications department. Sophomore Sage Martin is a student working on creating the new group as well.
Carroll said the group aims to provide community for AAPI students, as well as provide information to the wider campus about the diversity of AAPI culture.
“It’s a group that is seeking to, within itself, support the Asian-American, Asian and Pacific-Islander community, and then [our] outward focus is to raise awareness about the incredibly distinctive cultures, peoples, groups within this thing we, for lack of a better term, call Asian, Asian-American,” Carroll said.
Martin hopes the group will provide a sense of community to AAPI students, not only in discussions about race, ethnicity and identity, but also in having a good time together doing fun activities.
“I just think it would be cool to have a group of people who are all part of the same thing and part of specific things, to just have conversations about what is going on in the world,” Martin said. “It’d be fun to have a little community and not just talk about deep things but do fun things like, a movie night or just get together and study.”
Currently, the group is trying to determine the level of student interest in joining so that the group can become an official group on Berry’s campus, Carroll explained. It has to meet a few requirements, which includes a minimum of five students being interested in doing work for the club. After, the group can focus on scheduling and organizing events on campus.
The group sprung out of Carroll’s Perennial Questions honors course last semester, which Martin was a student of. It was during a time of increased violence towards AAPI people, including the spa shootings on Mar. 16, in Atlanta. At the same time, #stopasianhate was also trending on social media. These events guided class discussions.
“We had a really meaningful but, wow, difficult conversation about [the spa killings] how to interpret that and how to interpret it for the Asian-American community at large,” Carroll said. “In that conversation, we realized there were more people of Asian-American heritage than we knew, than we thought.”
Martin and Carroll agreed that they should formulate a new club for AAPI students at Berry from these conversations.
“I’m half-Filipino and white, and I thought it was a great idea and [Carroll] thought it was a great idea, so we decided that we could just do it because it didn’t exist before,” Martin said.
Additionally, Carroll added that his family and personal history, as well as the media’s short attention span to the events, led to him providing class time for students to discuss and process the spa killings.
“I was sort of primed to be really interested in this conversation already, personally, so that’s why as a class we created that space and time to process [the event],” Carroll said. “Less than a week later, there was a shooting in Indianapolis at a FedEx facility, and the whole conversation had moved on. So Asian-American questions with respect to violence got less than a week.”
At present, the group wants to host discussion groups, cultural diversity events that focus on music, cuisine and culture as well as movie nights that feature AAPI directors, writers and actors.