Despite a slight drop in the percentage of Asian-American students at UNC, the Asian Students Association tripled in size within the past two years.
And the group’s president, Nathaniel Wong, said that is only the beginning.
Wong said he attributes much of that growth to the group’s efforts to reach out to non-Asian students, with many white and black students boosting the group’s ranks.
“I’m so sick of ‘you have to be Asian,’” he said.
Wong said he frequently hears that minority student groups are stereotyped as lacking diversity.
To fight that stereotype, he said, the group began actively courting non-Asian students. When members of the group were preparing for Fall Fest, Wong said he instructed them to emphasize the group’s open nature.
In 2008, the group had at least 30 to 40 dues-paying members, which swelled to more than 100 last year.
Wong said the group’s membership is expected to become even larger this year.
The Asian Students Association is not the only minority group on campus experiencing growth from outside its ethnic namesake.
Hector Hernandez-Lopez, president of the Carolina Hispanic Association, said the turnout at an interest meeting Tuesday indicates a membership doubling that of last year.
He said Chispa recruited non-Hispanic students in a manner similar to the Asian Students Association. The crowd at the meeting, he said, was evenly mixed with regard to ethnicity.
“It’s not just for Latino students,” he said.
Sana Khan, president of the Muslim Students Association, said that group is experiencing its own modest growth, though not at the same pace as the other two groups.
She said the group has a core of non-Muslim students.
The surge in membership allows the Asian Students Association to put on better events and raise more money for its charity wing, REACH, he said.
This year, the group plans to host a range of events, including Chinese and Japanese drummers and lessons for students interested in learning to make sushi.
At last year’s Japanese tea ceremony, Wong said, the group’s increasing diversity was on display.
“More non-Asian students were at that event than Asians,” he said.
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