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Lim Says End of Quotas Helps Asian-Americans

By John F. Coyle

The death of affirmative action in California universities will not adversely affect the Asian-American student population there, said Professor Shirley Lim, professor of English literature at the University of California at Santa Barbara, to a small group of students in Loker Commons last night.

Lim was invited by the Asian-American Association to read from and discuss her most recent book, Among the the White Moon Faces, a memoir about her life in the United States.

Lim stated that, if anything, the end of the quota system will result in an even greater proportion of Asian-Americans on California campuses.

"The University of California at Santa Barbara is currently a very attractive place for Asian-Americans," she said. "If current trends continue, then the campus will become even more so."

Although Lim said she doesn't believe in the quota system, she wishes that an alternate system had been found before the previous one was abolished.

The current system, with no guarantees of a minority population on campus, "will lead to the Balkanization of America," Lim said.

Lim also said she believes that checking the box on college applications marked "Asian-Americans" works against applicants.

In her reading, Lim chose passages that emphasized the connection between stories and one's homeland, stating at one point, "home is the place where our stories are told."

She said she did she find a place in the United States where she felt the same sort of connection she did with her native Malaysia until she came to California.

"California is a place that is within the United States yet apart from them," she said. "Where the East looks across the ocean to Europe, California looks across the Pacific to Asia."

Tara I. Chang, '99, cultural chair of the Asian American Association, explained that the organization invited Lim to read at Harvard because "she is well respected in the Asian-American academic community. Her writing often deals what it means to be Asian-American."

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