Asian Student Support Initiative Team 

“Our discussion series, called Empower Our Asian Voices, we wanted to be a bi-monthly regular meeting, like a social platform where we can invite Asian-American members of the community … to come and discuss the topics that are important to us.” Desia Xiong Madison College Student

Chris Bird, Managing Editor

In response to a rise in anti-Asian hate crime, hate incidences, and discrimination due to COVID-19, students at Madison College are forming the Asian Student Support InitiativeThis group is aiming to provide Asian students and the community the support and resources they need to thrive at Madison College.  

Caitlyn Lee, the student who started the ball rolling for this initiative shared what brought her to get this group together. So I just started reading all these articles and learning about all these things that have been happening to the Asian community, and before I was hearing stuff from my friends and family about incidences that had affected their friends and family, and people they know. I always kept that at the back of my mind, but I wasn’t really fully thinking about it as school was starting and approaching. I started to get more into it and how much it has really affected the Asian community.” 

Lee saw news of an incident in Brooklyn, New York, where an 89-year-old Asian woman was set on fire. Suspects were arrested by NYPD, but the incident is not being classified as a hate crime and has generated a great deal of attention and action in the Asian-American community over the police not treating this as a hate incident. Struggling to find help and who did it and seeing a large part of the Asian community be silenced, or not be listened to. It has really spurred me into being like ‘what are we doing now?’ and ‘what is the Madison College community doing?’”  

“This is one of many, one of several incidences that have affected the Asian Community … there are so many other incidences of discrimination and hate incidences and hate crimes that don’t go reported. So, I just really wanted to focus on the community. 

“I was taking a look on the website and noticed there wasn’t a statement supporting the Asian Community… for me it was really disappointing and demoralizing. 

Months and months after the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, hate incidences, and discrimination due to COVID-19, there was still no public response from the college addressing these issues specifically. The college has made statements about anti-racism and provided resources to help the community work toward equity and inclusion, but nothing directly focused on this rise in issues affecting Asian students and people in Madison.  

I took the time to start researching what other schools were doing, and what other universities, how they were responding to the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination. They were doing a lot more than we were, said Lee. 

We noticed these issues, we noticed a lack of structure… a lack of platform for the Asian student community to voice their opinion, or to even gather to be honest, to have a safe place,” said Desia Xiong, another student at the college who is working to organize this initiative. 

This group is focused on the Asian community, but it is also trying to centralize what resources they can get together to make it easier for people to report hate crimes, find support, and make it easier to take action against all types of discrimination. The meetings are intended to give Asian voices a chance to be heard and give people of all different backgrounds a chance to hear and understand the Asian community. 

Our discussion series, called Empower Our Asian Voices, we wanted to be a bi-monthly regular meeting, like a social platform where we can invite Asian-American members of the community, its not just exclusive to Madison College, but other Asian students to come and discuss the topics that are important to us. Mainly, we’re going to start with talking about COVID and how it has affected our community, and then mental health… and then we will talk about the Asian-American experience.”  

Other topics they want to go over are K-pop culture, disabilities in the Asian community, issues young Asian men are facing and what support systems they have, drinking culture in Asian communities, and interracial relationships. 

“To be able to broaden the discussion series so that it enables us to kind of connect with each other too, which I think is a missing component at Madison college, is just being able to connect with other students. ASA is a club that is more focused on social activities … this is hopefully to create a safe space to talk about topics that might sit at the back of our minds, but we’re not sure if it’s normal. I personally struggle a lot with my Asian-American identity, and I am super excited to have this discussion series because I have always wanted to talk to my Asian peers about these experiences,” said Xiong.  

If you are interested in joining the initiative, contact Caitlyn Lee (student) at [email protected]