Asian Students seek more support from Augustana

Maria Fernanda Rubi

Despite Asian hate being a prominent topic in the country, students believe Augustana has taken little action to address the issue.
On March 18, Augustana sent an email condemning violent acts against Asian community and attached resources and activities for students to show their commitment to racial justice. 
Sophomore Madelaine Herwig is the treasurer of the Asian Student Organization (ASO) and secretary of the Filipinx Students Organization (FSO) and said she thinks most of the support for Asian communities on campus has been student-led. 
“It is a little disheartening to see that the college really hasn’t done much, and they’ve kind of let the student organizations to do most of the work,” Herwig said. 
Sophomore Trisha Plachno, PR of ASO and FSO, believes the administration has not given much support due to against Asian people. “I feel like because of the stereotype, people perceive us as more submissive, independent and high-achieving, and people are like, ‘why would they need help from the administration?’” Plachno said.
The Observer reached out to administration but wasn’t able to coordinate an interview. 
Multicultural groups on campus have been taking action to address Asian hate crimes.
One week ago, ASO and FSO ran the We Stand Together Project. According to Plachno, the event was mainly student-led and was well-received among the student body. “I feel like the amount of attendance and amount of people we’ve had backing us throughout our mission has been cool and empowering,” Plachno said.
The project was inspired by “The Clothesline Project: T-shirt Making” led by the Sexual Health and Violence Prevention Committee on Symposium Day in the fall of 2019. 
Both ASO and FSO wrote sayings in t-shirts and hung them up in the quad for a week.
“We created these t-shirts proclaiming inaccurate stereotypes about Asian Americans that hold us in a powerless position, because we wanted to change how others perceive us and to push society to think of us not as a monolith but as individuals with our quirks and such,” Herwig said. 
Plachno said that being involved in the cultural groups on campus has benefitted her in many ways.  
“Through the events and our meetings, I have had the opportunity to engage in conversations I’ve never been able to have, share my feelings and compare my experiences with others… it has definitely been life-changing for me,” Plachno said.
According to sophomore Joyce Matanguihan, ASO recruitment chair and FSO fundraiser, this year the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity (OSID) has been supportive to both organizations. 
“This year [ASO and FSO] have been working a lot more closely with OSID in trying to get more events done on campus that will help us showcase our culture and feel empowered,” Matanguihan said.
Plachno said she believes a difference is made both by acknowledging an issue and acting on it.
“Stepping up requires action, it is not just performative.  [It] is seeing things and addressing them,” Plachno said.
According to Matanguihan, Augustana could support the Asian community by renovating the Asian cultural house.
“Our cultural house has not been as up-to-date as the other houses to the point where it is unsafe to be there, and I know they planned on working on it, but it’s been two years since I’ve been on campus and nothing has been done,” Matanguihan said.
Herwig said that not having a cultural house to gather in has negatively impacted her
“[The cultural house] is a place where [Asian identifying students] can feel safe and at home, and the fact that it is gone gives us a sense of cultural homelessness,” Herwig said.
Herwig invites not only Asian identifying students but the whole student body to join cultural groups. 
“There is this stigma that non-identifying people should not join the groups because they could interfere with our safe space, but we want to share our culture with others so the whole campus can become our safe space,” Herwig said.