Rodin advised the students on how to proceed with the idea. In a meeting yesterday with approximately 20 Asian-American students, University President Judith Rodin expressed her support for an Asian-American resource center, suggesting she would help students develop the center once they submit a clear proposal outlining their goals. In a comment that left Asian-American students feeling generally optimistic, Rodin said, "Your requests? are highly legitimate. We support the idea of an Asian-American resource center and I share [Provost Robert Barchi's] commitment to really pursue it." Asian-American students on campus spent much of Asian Pacific American Heritage Week two weeks ago protesting the lack of a resource center and blasting the University administration for failing to address their concerns for more than a decade. At yesterday's meeting, Rodin stressed that Asian-American students lost sight of the overall goal by injecting harsh rhetoric into their criticisms of the administration. "Your action plan doesn't have any action in it," Rodin said. "It has a lot of rhetoric and anger. In creating a plan with faculty advisors, you will show your proactivity and, in turn, I will be proactive." Rodin repeatedly cited La Casa Latina, as well as Kelly Writers House and Civic House, as examples of how to effectively propose a resource center. Those who worked on the development of La Casa Latina had the advantage of a permanent faculty member to assist them in developing a proposal which explained the needs of the students and how a center would meet them. Rodin explained that the development of an Asian-American resource center would be partially contingent on the level of faculty commitment. "It's going to depend on faculty involvement and commitment because that's the way things succeed at Penn," Rodin said. "The president doesn't sit down and plan resource centers -- I just can't do it. My role is to make sure [students' plans] get implemented." Students, however, expressed serious concern that Asian-American faculty mentors are hard to come by at Penn. "We are here right now because we can't find mentors," said College junior John Lin, the political chairperson of the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, pointing to the small number of Asian-American undergraduate faculty members at the University. Rodin pointed out that there are 148 Asian Pacific-American faculty members at the University, with 52 in undergraduate schools. There are 20 in the College of Arts and Sciences, 15 in the Wharton School, 17 in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and none in the School of Nursing. Rodin also made it clear that the University would not hire any new staff whose sole purpose would be to guide and mentor Asian-American students and suggested that students not rule out graduate students as possible mentors. "Penn has hundreds, bordering on thousands of student groups, and each group does not have a mentor," Rodin said. If the University had a mentor for every student group, "Penn would drastically have to cut back the number of student groups." Not everyone agreed with Rodin's assessment of the situation. Edward Southgate, a graduate student in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, felt that while some groups, such as the Penn Skydiving Club, do not need a faculty mentor, other groups do. "To say 'they don't have an advisor, so why should you have an advisor' to me is a ridiculous argument," Southgate said. Several attendees said they were optimistic following the discussion with Rodin. "We came in thinking we had to persuade her but it seems like she already supports the idea," said College junior Jennifer Wound, vice chairperson of the Asia Pacific Student Coalition.Comments powered by Disqus
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