Student groups are looking to bring something to Purdue that every other school in the Big Ten already has – an Asian Cultural Center.
Although Purdue has one of the most diverse campuses in the country, it’s one of the few schools to not have a cultural oasis for Asian students.
College of Health and Human Sciences sophomore Victoria Loong, vice president of the Asian-American Association, said the University not having a center is baffling.
“I think it’s really odd,” Loong said. “(The University is) diverse but it’s obviously still segregated because everyone goes into their own groups again.”
One setback in getting a center established, according to Loong, has simply been the lack of awareness around campus of the absence of an Asian Cultural Center.
“It’s surprising how many people don’t know we don’t have a cultural center or don’t find it necessary,” Loong said. “My roommate was, one time, talking to a lot of girls on our floor and they didn’t even know we didn’t have a cultural center. When they found out they were like, ‘Why don’t we?’ and they said, ‘We’ll support you.’”
College of Technology sophomore Tami Dizon, president of the Asian Student Union Board, said a further complication is the lack of interest and activity of many Asian students on campus.
She said there are numerous students who are interested and share the desire for a center and what it would offer – and that the problem is just getting them motivated and organized in the effort.
Dizon said she used to be a perfect example of this lack of energy.
“When I first came here, I wasn’t really interested in us being involved in all the (organizations),” Dizon said. “People were talking about ‘Oh, hey, let’s join Asian-American Association and all these other things,’ and kind of thought about it and was like, ‘Well, why?’”
Dizon said a lot of Asian students just come to school, focus on their studies for four years and then are gone.
“It is a lot of work to do this, because it will take years,” Dizon said. “If it’s not going to be done by the time we’re still here to see it happen, a lot of people aren’t going to care.”
Patsy Schweickart, a professor of English and women’s studies, agreed the lack of interest has been a big hurdle in obtaining a center. She said she and others have been pursuing an Asian Cultural Center since 2007, when the Asian-American studies program was introduced.
“We have a large community of Asian and Asian-American students and there is a need for a cultural space for them,” Schweickart said. “Unfortunately, at the time, we did not have strong interest among the Asian-American and Asian undergraduates. So the idea was recently revived.”