Sunday, December 02, 2007

'Count Me In' Campaign Victory at UC Campuses - Asian and Pacific Islander Students Counter the Model Minority Image

Photo from Pacific Citizen
Bravo to Asian and Pacific Islander students from UCLA and throughout California in their "Count Me In" Campaign victory for educational equity for Pacific Islander and South East Asian students in the University of California system.

After a year-long advocacy campaign, including rallies and a day of action where they delivered 2000 postcards in late October to the UC Regents, UCLA's Asian Pacific Coalition and supporters have succeeded in convincing the UC system to begin more accurately considering Asian and Pacific Islander applicants to the UC system by expanding categories of Asian and Pacific Islanders from 8 to 23 different ethnic groups.

At a November 19th conference on the UCLA campus UC VP of Student Affairs Judy Sakaki announced at the conference that, starting in 2008, the UC system will begin disaggregating the data for Asian and Pacific Islander applicants, so students can choose a more specific category for their ethnicity. The new application will also split the Pacific Islander category completely from Asian American.

UCLA's Asian Pacific Coalition [APC] is made up of 21 Asian American-Pacific Islander student organizations such as the Association of Hmong Students, the Pacific Islands Student Association and United Khmer Students. The APC serves as the main political voice of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities at UCLA. The organization acts as an advocacy group for Asian American and Pacific Islander student groups, and brings together the diverse communities to address educational, social, cultural, and political issues.
The APC is working also with other groups and state officials as well to improve access to higher education for low income and underrepresented students of color. Members of the APC promoted their "Count Me In" campaign and State Assemblyman Ted Lieu’s, D-Los Angeles, Assembly Bill 295 in a press conference at UCLA on May 31.
According to the UCLA Bruin, Lieu’s bill calls for state agencies that collect demographic data on ethnic origin, not including the University of California, to further separate categories for Asian and Pacific Islander groups. In addition to the existing groups of Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese, agencies would include 10 more Asian American groups such as Bangladeshi, Fijian and Hmong. The proposed divisions would mirror the method used by the United States Census.
While the enrollment numbers for some Asian ethnic groups are low and access to resources are limited, organizers of the campaign said such issues are ignored because the groups are widely identified as “Asian” and assumed to be academically and financially successful, victims of the "model minority stereotype."
UCLA's APC began their campaign in late 2006 as the direct response to anti-Asian sentiment expressed at UCLA and a student newspaper column that blamed APA students for lowered numbers of African American and Hispanic admits. The APC immediately hosted a forum to dispel the misconception and from there, the Count Me In! campaign was born, according to Pacific Citizen Asst Editor Lynda Lin.
Following UC VP Judy Sakaki's announcement of the UC changes Matt Krupick of the Contra Costa Times wrote:

Next year's [UC undergraduate] application will expand the number of Asian-American and Pacific Islander categories to 23 -- a nearly threefold increase from the current eight categories. The ethnic identification will continue to be optional and will not figure into admissions decisions, administrators said.
The 10-campus university adopted the change after thousands of students sent postcards to UC leaders as part of the "Count Me In" campaign, said William Kidder, a UC administrator who has studied Asian-American students. The effort will help the university track groups that have not been adequately studied, such as Hmong and Samoan students, he said.
...The number of Asian- Americans has surpassed white students in the UC system. ...But the numbers belie disparities within those groups, failing to illustrate the paucity of
students from certain countries. A UCLA study last year revealed that among adults 25 and older, 15 percent of Pacific Islanders had a bachelor's degree or higher, compared with 17 percent of African-Americans, 30 percent of whites and 49 percent of Asian-Americans.
The traditional statistical grouping of Pacific Islanders with Asians has made it difficult to improve college-going rates, Kidder said. Many Americans assume all Asian and Pacific Islander students share the high success rates of Chinese, Korean and Japanese students, he said.
"The 'model minority' myth ... has tended to make some of the differences harder to
see," he said. "It's rendered disadvantaged groups invisible."

Studies have shown that students from several southeast Asian countries -- including Laos and
Cambodia -- are not as likely to attend college as those from Asian countries with more developed higher-education systems.
"Southeast Asians are not getting their needs specifically met," said Muang Saephan, a youth counselor with the Oakland-based organization Lao Family Community Development. "You have some families who just got here and are barely aware of what college is."
Many southeast Asian students come from families that fled war-torn countries, said Aline Xayasouk, a third-year UC Berkeley student of Laotian descent. The Laotian students from Richmond she tutors often live in poverty and do not fit in with the Asian stereotypes of their classmates, she said.
"They always feel that people don't understand them and why they're failing," Xayasouk said.
The new UC application will include Asian categories of Chinese, Taiwanese, Asian Indian, Pakistani, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, Hmong, Thai, Cambodian, Laotian, Bangladeshi, Indonesian, Malaysian, Sri Lankan and other Asian applicants.
Pacific Islander categories will include Native Hawaiian, Guamanian/Chamorro, Samoan, Tongan, Fijian and others.
Lumping the groups together has prevented Pacific Islander groups from making the case for better funding for outreach programs, said Michael Tun'cap, a UC Berkeley doctoral student who grew up in Guam.
"It's long overdue for Pacific Islanders," he said. "The U.S. Census Bureau split the two groups eight years ago."

See Lynda Lin's excellent article from Pacific Citizen for more background.

1 comment:

RiceIsMyRocketFuel said...

Haha shoutout and props to APC and the other UC API Advocacy groups for real. UC Irvine's APSA was proud to be part of the campaign!