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Stanford Community Centers

Asian American Activities Center

Early History Asian and Asian American students have been a part of Stanford history beginning with the inaugural class in 1891. The Japanese Students Association and the Chinese Students Association were founded in the early 1900s as the first Asian and Asian American voluntary student organizations. In 1913, the first professor of Asian decent, Yamato Ichihashi, was hired in the history department. Racial tensions resulted in the establishment of the Japanese Clubhouse (1916) and the Chinese Clubhouse (1919) as safe residences for students of Asian descent.

In 1942, 24 students of Japanese descent and Professor Ichihashi and his wife were removed from campus and sent to internment camps as a result of Executive Order 9066.

During the period of the Civil Rights Movement, Asian American students began to organize and advocate for their needs. The Asian American Student Alliance, which later became the Stanford Students Coordinating Committee and now the Asian American Students' Association, formed in 1969. That same year, inspired by Black Student Union protests following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, Asian American students started a petition for Asian American Studies.

An Asian American theme dorm, Junipero which became Okada House, was established in 1971, followed by the People's Teahouse, which became the Okada Teahouse and Teahouse. In 1975, the Asian American New Student Orientation Committee was established to introduce new students to the community. The Asian American Sourcebook and Big Brother/Big Sibling Program (which became Big Sib/Little Sib) followed as well as the Asian American Theater Project founded by then student David Henry Hwang.

In 1977, the Asian American Activities Center is established in the Old Fire Truck House and staffed by volunteer student interns (the precursor to the Center was the Asian American Resource Center that was housed in Junipero in the early 1970's).

In 1982, four Stanford students were featured on the cover of Newsweek with a headline, "Asian-Americans: The Drive to Excel," feeding misperceptions of Asian Americans as the "model minority."

In 1986, an undergraduate student, Jeffrey Au, raised questions about Asian American admissions which prompted a study by the Academic Senate Committee which found "unconscious bias" affected admissions rates for Asian Americans. Immediately following rates of admission increased dramatically.

In 1987, students form the Rainbow Agenda issue demands, including the institutionalization of the Center. Julian Low is hired as a half-time Director and Elsa Tsutaoka is the office manager.

With the growth of the Asian American student population, the first wave of diverse Asian American student organizations were founded from 1988-89. Following the student Take Over of the President's Office, the Asian American Activities Center was instutionalized and the first full time director, Rick Yuen, was hired. Also as a result of the Take Over, in 1990, two Asian American Studies faculty were hired, Gordon Chang and David Palumbo-Liu, and the first Asian American Studies courses were offered the following year.

Organizations founded during this period include: Chinese Folk Dance, Stanford University Nikei (now Japanese Student Union), Stanford Vietnamese Association (now Stanford Vietnamese Students Association), Stanford Wushu, Hong Kong Student Association, Korean Students Association (which became Korean American Students Association before reverting back to Korean Students Association), Stanford "K" Club of India (now Sanskriti), the Thai-American Intercultural Society,the Undergraduate Chinese American Association, the Pilipino American Student Union (although there was a Filipino Student Union in the early 1070's), the Taiwanese American Students Association (now Taiwanese Cultural Society), Asian American Women's Group (which became Stanford Asian Women), the Asian Law Students Association (now the Asian Pacific Islander Law Students Association), Asian American Medical Students (now Asian Pacific American Medical Students Association).

The growth in Asian American student organizations continue with the establishment of: Stanford Taiko, Lambda Phi Epsilon, alpha Kappa Delta Phi, Project AIYME, Stanford Hwimori, Newtype Anime Club, Singaporeans at Stanford, Indonesian Club at Stanford.

In 1994 Chicana students went on a hunger strike to demand the reinstatement of a senior Chicana adminisrator, the establishment of an ethnic studies program and a grape boycott. Asian American students disrupt a faculty senate meeting demanding Asian American Studies. The Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity is esstablished, followed by the creation of the Asian American Studies program in 1997.

In 1995 the Mibority Alumni Hall of Fame is established by the ethnic community centers to recognize the contributions of outstanding alumni of color

In 1996 the Queer and Asian student organization was founded to provide a safe space for students to explore issues concerning the Asian American and LGBT identities.

As the Asian American student population became more diverse, new student organizations were established including: the Multiracial Identified Community at Stanford (there was a Half Asian Peoples Association in the late 1980's), Malaysians at Stanford, Pakistanis at Stanford, Muslim Student Awareness Network, Bhangra, Hindi Film Dance, Stanford Asian American Activist Committee, Noopor, Kayumanggi, Sigma Psi Zeta.

The Center offers a new Speaker Series focused on underrepresented Filipino, Southeast Asian and South Asian ethnicities. In 2004 students protest at the Dean of Admissions Office to demand an increase in Filipino and Southeast Asian student outreach and admissions.

In 2006 the Center convened a Task Force to study mental health concerns for Asian American students. A survey was conducted in 2007 and results led to the creation of the After Dark (now iLive) program focusing on Asian American mental health and well-being issues.

In 2007 the Hmong Student Union and Stanford Khmer Association were established.