The Pan Asian American Community House, the new Asian-American resource center on campus, hopes to open its doors to students, faculty and staff in early November. With nearly complete offices in the former Christian Association building on Locust Walk and a new program director, the center is almost ready to go. PAACH will offer a number of services and amenities, including advising and mentoring, a library, meeting space for various student groups and a place where students, faculty and staff can come together in a comfortable environment. "There's so little opportunity on campus to learn more about Asian-American culture and history," said Karen Su, the recently appointed director of PAACH and the assistant director of Asian-American studies. "I think that PAACH can really fill in that gap." PAACH will promote cultural enrichment for the Asian community on campus -- defined as including those of "South Asian, Southeast Asian, East Asian and Pacific Islander descent" -- as well as for the larger Penn community. Getting the center has been a tough battle for Asian-American students, who have called out for such resources for at least a decade. Finally last fall, students, led by the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, stepped up their efforts and launched a campus-wide campaign for a resource center. They quickly garnered attention, holding events such as the Speakout! rally. In February, after several meetings with University President Judith Rodin, the University committed to the establishment of PAACH. "It took some time for the administration to understand that here is a sizable population who needs to be understood, who needs to understand their own culture, their own identity, their own issues," said Assistant College of Arts and Sciences Dean Srilata Gangulee, who actively supported student efforts. "Therefore a center is much needed." Throughout the struggle for the center, the biggest criticism was that it would be exclusive, promoting self-segregation. Those involved with PAACH, however, have worked hard to ensure that that will not be the case. In its mission statement, the center says it "will assist the Penn community in informing, educating and exploring issues relevant to the Asian/Pacific American experience." PAACH also seeks to give any student -- regardless of racial or ethnic background -- the chance to learn more about Asian-American culture through different programs and events that PAACH hopes to get off the ground this year, including colloquiums featuring research in Asian-American studies. Plans for the upcoming year remain tentative at this point, and the center is still very much in the planning stages. "There's still a lot of room to define what PAACH will do," Su said. However, both she and involved students expressed a desire to work on attracting dedicated students, especially in the freshman class. Because the "PAACH is in its inaugural year, we really encourage that students... get involved now," Engineering junior and former APSC member Eric Chen said. "They will help shape the future of PAACH."Comments powered by Disqus
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