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New Club Formed For 'Half' Asians

By Elizabeth T. Bangs and Justin C. Danilewiiz

Are you part Asian-American? Do you feel out of place at other exclusively Asian associations on campus? If so, a new club at Harvard might be just what you've been looking for.

Christine Murasaki Millett, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, has organized a club catering to undergraduate and graduate students of part-Asian descent.

The Half Asian Persons Association [HAPA] held its first meeting last night, drawing nine interested students.

Millett, who participated in a similar organization during her two years at Stanford University, thought it would be a welcome addition to the Harvard community because "we get the cold shoulder from other groups... We bridge the gap between the two cultures."

Millet said she hopes to invite part-Asian speakers, academics and performers to future meetings. She also hopes to have informal get-togethers with fellow students and to host a forum for discussion of biracial and multicultural issues.

"These issues are very popular, at least on the west coast," she said. "I don't know how they are going to go over here in Boston, which tends to be more conservative. I just wanted to test the waters to see if Harvard was ready for a biracial or multiracial student organization."

The group is designed to be social, rather than political.

"It's an informal way to get together and meet people with similar backgrounds and experiences," Millett said. "I guess being half-Asian myself I'm curious and really anxious to meet other people who share the same heritage."

She said that the group is not a support network.

"That implies there's something wrong with us," Millett said.

Some students felt that being part Asian and part Caucasian meant they were not considered part of either culture. Others said they were twice blessed.

"It's not half-half, it's double-double," Simon Gerovich '99 said. "[We] have the benefit of having a dual cultural heritage."

One student who is fully Asian came to the meeting because she felt that after growing up in a predominantly Caucasian environment, she needed to find somewhere she belonged.

"One thing we were able to accomplish at Stanford was to make other Asian-American groups on campus more inclusive," Millett said. "I've talked to people who've gone to meetings and come back horrified. They said, 'Oh, you're only half.' Half Asians don't always fit in with fully Caucasians or 100 percent Asians."

HAPA will hold another organizational meeting today at noon in Dudley House and another next week on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Dudley House.

But as HAPA was organizing itself last night, other half Asians were questioning the need for the new group.

"I've heard about it. But I wasn't going to join," Jason E. Bressner '99 said. "I really don't believe in joining ethnic groups. I just don't believe in labelling anybody."

Eli D. Chan '97 said he was concerned that this organization wouldn't be any less exclusive than other ethnic groups.

"I think the general trend at Harvard and most other universities is towards more and more specific cultural and ethnic groups," Chan said. "It only really trends to separate people from other kinds of people."

Millett said she is currently working to get HAPA recognized as an official student group by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She doesn't yet have plans to have the group recognized by the College.

She said she chose the name HAPA because it is a Hawaiian word which means "half Japanese."

"It's a very familiar term among Asians or half Asians," she said

The group is designed to be social, rather than political.

"It's an informal way to get together and meet people with similar backgrounds and experiences," Millett said. "I guess being half-Asian myself I'm curious and really anxious to meet other people who share the same heritage."

She said that the group is not a support network.

"That implies there's something wrong with us," Millett said.

Some students felt that being part Asian and part Caucasian meant they were not considered part of either culture. Others said they were twice blessed.

"It's not half-half, it's double-double," Simon Gerovich '99 said. "[We] have the benefit of having a dual cultural heritage."

One student who is fully Asian came to the meeting because she felt that after growing up in a predominantly Caucasian environment, she needed to find somewhere she belonged.

"One thing we were able to accomplish at Stanford was to make other Asian-American groups on campus more inclusive," Millett said. "I've talked to people who've gone to meetings and come back horrified. They said, 'Oh, you're only half.' Half Asians don't always fit in with fully Caucasians or 100 percent Asians."

HAPA will hold another organizational meeting today at noon in Dudley House and another next week on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Dudley House.

But as HAPA was organizing itself last night, other half Asians were questioning the need for the new group.

"I've heard about it. But I wasn't going to join," Jason E. Bressner '99 said. "I really don't believe in joining ethnic groups. I just don't believe in labelling anybody."

Eli D. Chan '97 said he was concerned that this organization wouldn't be any less exclusive than other ethnic groups.

"I think the general trend at Harvard and most other universities is towards more and more specific cultural and ethnic groups," Chan said. "It only really trends to separate people from other kinds of people."

Millett said she is currently working to get HAPA recognized as an official student group by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She doesn't yet have plans to have the group recognized by the College.

She said she chose the name HAPA because it is a Hawaiian word which means "half Japanese."

"It's a very familiar term among Asians or half Asians," she said

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