AAA Officers to Emphasize Politics

The new leadership of the Asian American Association (AAA) was elected last week, with the new officers pledging to focus on political activism during the coming year.

Citing the creation of a "campaign of awareness" as his primary ambition for the semester, Co-President-Elect Andrew Park '01 wrote in an e-mail message that he hopes "to bring current Asian-American issues to the forefront for discussion, debate and political change."

Park's new focus on political action was echoed by many new steering committee members.

"Though Asian Americans make up a solid 20 percent of Harvard's undergraduate student population, there is a lack of representation of us in faculty and the academic field," Co-Vice President-Elect Lei Juliet Wei '01wrote in an e-mail message.

Support for the creation of an ethnic studies concentration ranks high on incoming board members' agendas. Wei said despite continued prejudice toward Asian-Americans in the United States, the community's political profile and academic presence at Harvard remain minimal.

"Nowhere at Harvard are there courses on Asian-American history, not to mention an entire ethnic studies department," Wei wrote.

According to AAA members, a political focus is what could distinguish AAA from other Asian-American student groups on campus that are ethnic-specific, such as the Chinese Students Association.

The group has had trouble retaining members, as many Asian students have tended to identify more closely with such ethnic-specific Asian groups, said Kiri J. Mah '02, secretary/historian-elect.

Mah said the group hopes to use unifying political issues to bring members back to AAA.

The group also plans to increase membership through social events that will bring the group's steering committee closer to its members--a main concern of newly elected Co-Social Chair Betty Hsu '03.

"[We want] study breaks where people feel like they're part of a group," Hsu said.

Elections were held through the AAA e-mail list over the course of the last week, and all of the several hundred students on the AAA mailing list were eligible to vote. Candidates were notified of their election late Monday evening.

The newly elected board also includes co-President Jenny I. Shen '01, co-Vice President Pamela F. Peng '02, Educational/Political Chair Chhay Chhun '02, Cultural Chair Emmeline M. Chuang '02, co-Social Chair Roger Hong '03 and Interethnic Liaison Sean S. Cheng '02.