By Mateo Requejo-Tejada
Graphic By Sara Valbuena
Las Lomas is home to many equity clubs, including Latines Unides, Black Student Union, the Feminist Society and many more. However, one group that remained unrepresented was the Las Lomas Asian population. That under-representation continued until Co-Presidents Jasmine Pham and Anissa Soungpanya decided to create Las Lomas’s first Asian Student Union, more formal than past Asian Clubs at Las Lomas, for example Las Lomas Asian Affiliation. After a year of increased awareness towards racial equity work, club leaders became interested in how they could help make Las Lomas a more equitable campus. Reflecting on her initial interest in creating a space for other minorities, Pham said, “I took a great interest in campus culture and realized that there are so many issues; creating ASU was one thing I could do to contribute to change.”
Pham, along with many others, felt pride in her culture and ethnicity but also added that “there was never really an outlet for that at Las Lomas.” ASU was created with the intent to change this by having discussions on “Asian heritage, diaspora, current events, culture, issues, et cetera,” described Pham. She added, “We will also be discussing how we can aid the Asian community, especially during the COVID-19 virus when we (especially our elders) are susceptible to verbal or physical hate crimes.” Amidst the global pandemic, hate crimes against the Asian community have skyrocketed, and creating a safe environment at school for Asian students has become vital. “Our mission is letting people know how they can support Asians, and [informing them] about the violence and racism that we do face,” said Soungpanya.
ASU began its mission by rolling out their first meeting in early March, centered on the bigotry spreading against the Asian community due to COVID-19. ASU’s Meetings have continued to provide a safe environment for members of the Asian community to share their thoughts and opinions, along with a space for non-Asian people to learn about Asian culture.
The existing Asian population at Las Lomas is exactly why ASU is vital. Pham commented, “Typically, Asian students at majority-white schools exist as a ‘silent minority.’ Internalized racism has silently surged, and the pressure to ‘fit in’ intensifies until we may feel ashamed of being intrinsically different. It’s so important that Asian youth (especially in these majority-white schools) embrace themselves and their identity.” As schools across the country continue to work on representation of minorities, Las Lomas ASU is beginning to give its Asian students a voice in their community. Pham ended with, “Asians tend to remain very silent; you don’t hear too much from us, but that is starting to change.”