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APIA Affairs and ISA host Inaugural State of the Union Address

APIA Affairs and ISA host Inaugural State of the Union Address

Over 50 people filled the Multicultural and Diversity Affairs Multi Purpose Room on the second floor of the J. Wayne Reitz Union Thursday evening for the APIDA Inaugural State of the Union Address.

The event was hosted by the Office of Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs and the Indian Student Association, in collaboration with the Pakistani Student Association and the Bangladeshi Student Association.

Part of the conversation of the night was the goal of adding “Desi” to APIA to become APIDA.

“I think it’s a natural conclusion; I think it’s part of the community outreach and support that we would hope to see in the aftershock of a difficult and shocking political circumstance,” said finance and English senior Kunaal Abhyankar, referring to the recent election results.

“Personally, I think it’s a phenomenal idea. As a Desi individual, when I joined APIA affairs, I felt part of such a small minority,” said APIA Affairs social justice and advocacy chair Nashrah Ahmed. “That feeling of being underrepresented in a space that you’re supposed to belong to is a feeling that I know very well. We need to be building a space in which all Asian Americans feel represented instead of what some people just think is Asian American.”

Before the address, Director of APIA Affairs Krystie Nguyen had a six-person discussion panel of student leaders introduce themselves.

Nguyen started off with a reference to the recent election results and talked about the growing presence of APIA individuals in the United States, highlighting issues such as poverty among certain subgroups. She also said that the number one reason APIDA students left the University of Florida campus was because they felt excluded.

She also celebrated the establishment of the new location of the APIA Affairs in the J. Wayne Reitz Union earlier this year and then went on to mention successful events hosted by the community and also the recent harassment incident involving Gator Adaa. She said that the incident, although appalling, brought the community closer together.

After the address, Nguyen turned the lectern over to third-year biochemistry and women’s studies major Aparna Sethumadhavan who moderated the panel discussion. The panel answered questions such as “What does Desi mean?” and “How has the Desi affected you as a Desi American?” Panelists also discussed the Gator Adaa incident before covering hate crimes, intersectionality of identity, the model minority myth and even taking off one’s shoes before entering the APIA Affairs space.

The panel also accepted questions from the audience. Topics ranged from how to respond to intolerance and how to support undocumented immigrants.

They emphasized the need to come together, especially in light of the recent election and associated fear of increased hate crimes.

“We are offering our love and support for one another and that makes me really hopeful” said AASU President Kevin Doan.

ISA President Praveen Varanasi also spoke about the importance of having faith in the rest of our democratic system.

Sethumadhavan wrapped up the night once again stressing for unity and also noting the importance of adding “Desi” to the APIA acronym. Finally, attendees filled out surveys with their opinions on the event and APIDA.

“I thought the event went exceptionally well and I’m proud of our student, faculty and staff that were able to show up,” Nguyen said.

Featured image by Zachariah Chou.