Longwood University is well known for being a college that encourages students to join in and participate in extracurricular activities. With the wide variety of clubs and organizations for students to get involved in, inclusion continues to be a contributing factor that leads to new clubs being formed.
One of the most recent additions to Longwood’s expansive amount of organizations is the Asian Student Involvement Association, also primarily known as ASIA. This new organization on Longwood’s campus that serves the much-needed purpose of giving a prominent voice to the population of Asian students.
The club first arrived in mid-September in the fall semester of 2019. The current spring semester of 2020 will be the second semester that ASIA has been on campus at Longwood.
Forming a club like ASIA takes a definite amount of dedication and preparation from its founding members in order to start off on the right foot. The president of ASIA, Gloria Kim mentioned, “There was actually a premade constitution because there was a student in that process [of forming the organization], but they ended up not completing it so having to repeat that process was very stressful.”
Kim also explained the motivation behind forming this new group: “It got started because when students are coming to Longwood, there’s not really a representative group for Asian students, so I thought that it would be cool to have that here.”
It is important to keep in mind that some Longwood students are from larger, urban areas such as Northern Virginia, Richmond and Virginia Beach. Therefore, smaller, rural areas like Farmville tend not to have the same kind of diversity that some students are familiar with.
Since ASIA is in the early stages as an organization, there are many factors to consider in terms of building and planning for the future of ASIA. The club’s vice president, Destiny Brown, stated, “I think just a goal for us is setting a direct path. Like we’re ASIA figuring out what we want to do in meetings and stuff. Just to have a direct path set for us would be a goal.”
When asked what the biggest goal for this organization is, the historian of ASIA, Liezl Villanueva, listed, “Cultural awareness, advocacy, and making people more aware of the Asian population here.” With the clear goal of making people more aware of Asian culture, ASIA has the potential to inspire others to not only learn about but fully recognize the Asian culture and population of Asian students present at Longwood.
At the first interest meeting there were 50 people total in attendance, and ASIA currently has approximately 15-20 active members. Considering these numbers come from just a semester’s worth of activity alone, the club's presence on campus can no longer be ignored, giving an official voice as a group that can influence and be influenced by every other group.
Being well informed of various traditions is vital when approaching a specific culture, so naturally research is another component when it comes to addressing diversity and giving proper inclusion. Kim further said, “For games, I already knew more about common Asian cultures like Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean too. I had a lot of friends back home that knew about this.”
Diversity and inclusion are both popular topics of discussion when it comes to societal issues nowadays. For a long time, the matter of providing more improved diversity has only been discussed and not acted upon, so the fact that different Longwood students from is a small yet important change to the university overall.
When asked about the importance of taking action about diversity and inclusion, Brown also said, “I think for us here at Longwood, without having an actual organization, we had diversity but not inclusion. Diversity is inclusion, so having this organization takes this a step further. It is important for people to know that they are special.”
ASIA seems to be headed in a positive direction for success this semester, and its members will continue to spread awareness about being more inclusive when it comes to diversity at Longwood for years to come.