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Asian Group Holds Seminar on Violence

By David D. Hsu
Staff Reporter

The Asian American Caucus, a new student group, sponsored a symposium on anti-Asian violence called "A Legacy of Isolated Incidents' " on Sunday.

The symposium consisted of a workshop and a panel discussion that included three lawyers who have dealt with cases of anti-Asian violence. As part of the discussion, Asian American Jose K. Sia Jr. '95 talked about his personal experiences. In the workshops, led by the Asian community group Safetynet, participants discussed case studies of anti-Asian violence.

The Caucus sought to educate and reach out to the community through the symposium, according to founding member Pauting A. Hsieh G.

"We wanted to learn more about anti-Asian violence," Hsieh said. "We've talked to contact people for all the different [MIT] organizations. One of our goals is community outreach."

The Caucus was generally pleased with the symposium. "The speakers were very exciting," said Wells W. Chen '95, another founding member. "We got a pretty comprehensive picture."

Assistant Dean of Residence and Campus Activities Mary M. L. Ni '84, an adviser to the Caucus, said the symposium was about more than just Asian issues. "It was looking at violence against people and misdirected anger," Ni said.

Only about 25 people showed up for the symposium, which was fewer people than expected, Hsieh said. "The student body has been supportive, but the support hasn't manifested in bodies and people speaking out," she said.

Despite having over 50 people on their mailing list, the Caucus has had sparse attendance at meetings. "We need more input in order for us to be a cohesive voice," Hsieh said.

Aimed at community activism

The Asian American Caucus was formed in the spring of 1994, Ni said. After the first student-produced "Intuitively Obvious" minority issues video, Ni felt that Asian input was needed. A group of students met and later formed the Caucus, she said.

The Caucus is aimed at community activism. "Our purpose isn't for cultural awareness or advancement," Hsieh said. "Our main goal is to increase awareness about social, political, and academic issues involving Asian Americans."

Members have been active in social issues concerning Asian Americans. During Residence and Orientation Week and Parents Weekend, the Caucus held a panel discussion on Asian American student life at MIT for parents, Hsieh said.

The group also helped with the new "Intuitively Obvious" video and conducted a letter-writing campaign concerning an Asian discrimination case, she said.

The Caucus plans to continue its community service, Chen said. During Independent Activities Period, the Caucus will sponsor a film series. In the future, they intend to hold more symposiums, build a network with Asian faculty, and meet with the administration.

"I think we're learning a lot of things we wouldn't otherwise hear about. We're getting connected to the community," Chen said.