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Club Spotlight: BAASA

By Polina Potochevska

Section: Features

October 21, 2016

The Brandeis Asian American Student Association (BAASA) was founded in 1971 at the onset of anti-Asian sentiment to “foster a safe space for the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community to freely express opinions,” says BAASA President Eric Lin ’17.

Lin, who has been a member of BAASA since his first year at Brandeis, has served in multiple positions including first year representative and his current position as president.

Vice President of BAASA Lilian Wang ’18 joined the E-board of BAASA in her sophomore year as event coordinator, after volunteering as a first-year during the APAHM celebration in March and immensely enjoying the experience.

APAHM, or Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, is a celebration of cultures that takes place in March. An example of a major event that BAASA annually holds during the month is the fashion show, called Skin.

“The goal is to celebrate and showcase diversity of the Brandeis community,” said Lin, as the show last year included models of color and fashion designs and lines that came from designers of multiple cultures as well.

A student in BAASA last year actually showcased her own designs. “Fashion is a white dominated industry, but there is still some diversity, so Skin helps to bring out these cultures on campus,” said Wang.

For the upcoming APAHM in March, the theme has yet to be revealed, as it is still early in the planning process. However, the E-Board, made up of 15 members and two senior advisors, is excited to begin planning this event. Wang mentioned that “being a part of the E-Board and creating an event that so many people went to [last spring] and enjoyed is so special.”

Discussions that BAASA holds usually include about 40 students, while cultural events bring about 80 people. Major events, such as Skin, can involve almost 300 students who come to volunteer and also enjoy the event and the performers that come from within the AAPI community. “It was so cool, and one of the best ones in a while,” said Wang of last year’s APAHM events.

An example of the type of discussions held by BAASA is the AAPI Vote event that took place on Thursday, Oct. 13, where students spoke about the importance and relevance of the AAPI vote in the upcoming presidential election, and in all elections in general. Wang mentioned that the talk was important, since these types of issues are not spoken of in mainstream media most of the time.

“The goal for BAASA is to raise awareness, there are always issues that come up that we’d like to address … such as mental health and media representation, to push BAASA to be more visible on campus,” said Lin of the educational topics the group discusses.

“We raise awareness on issues that pertain to the AAPI community,” said Lin of the discussions and the purpose of the group.

BAASA is also involved in events outside of Brandeis. For example, in 2015 the club attended the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) Conference in Boston, where members worked with multiple other colleges such as Harvard University and Boston College to plan a successful conference that discussed the diversity of the AAPI community. The Conference had nearly 2,000 attendees.

If you are interested in BAASA, you can like their page on Facebook, join the listserv or learn more on their website, BAASA Strikingly. Although elections for the E-Board have closed, the members of the club are always looking for new students to come to events as volunteers, supporters or performers. “Come to an event and you can easily get involved!” said Wang.

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