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New Asian/Asian-American Program House to join campus

Asian/Asian-American Program House to occupy Buxton House beginning fall semester 2019

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, March 14, 2019

The University has approved the formation of an Asian/Asian-American program house, which will occupy Buxton House on Wriston Quadrangle beginning fall 2019, wrote Assistant Director for Greek and Program House Engagement Megan Fox in an email to The Herald.

The AAA House will join the University’s six other program houses for the 2019-2020 academic year. Buxton International House, which previously inhabited Buxton House, will not be returning to campus next year, after the University suspended the group’s housing privileges until fall 2020, The Herald previously reported. The move might complicate Buxton International House’s ability to find space if reinstated in Fall 2020.

Jasmine Yang ’22 and Amanda Zhang ’22, co-founders of the new program house, hope that the AAA program will “create a familial, communal space” for students within the Asian community, Zhang said. “By providing this space where we can merge Asians and Asian-Americans, there is a place where we can communicate and interact and share how our experiences are different,” she added.

Through its space and programming, the AAA house hopes to celebrate “people of all Asian descent and experiences, including South East Asians and South Asians,” Yang wrote in a follow-up email to The Herald.

Because Asians are often seen as a “model minority,” there is often a lack of campus spaces dedicated to those of Asian identities, Yang said.

“We were thinking that there’s … Casa Machado, French House and a bunch of other program houses, well why isn’t there a space for us?” Zhang said.

The desire to establish a space for students within the Asian community also stemmed from Yang and Zhang’s unique cultural backgrounds. Yang and Zhang both spent part of their childhood in China, before Yang moved to Canada and Zhang moved to America. Through this mix of backgrounds, it can sometimes be difficult for some students to balance their identities, Zhang said. “We wanted to bring (our identities) holistically together. You don’t really have to choose, you are just you and we all accept that.”

Discussions about forming a new program house began in early January, when the co-founders reached out to Fox during a University-wide information session about the rushing process. Following that meeting, Fox directed Yang and Zhang to complete a series of forms outlining the program house’s focus, mission statement, intended campus impact and expected membership numbers.

By mid-February, the co-founders received notice that their program house had been accepted and would be placed in Buxton for the 2019-2020 academic year.

While the AAA program completed the application process in about a month, most program houses take a full semester for University approval, Yang said. But “luck, great timing” and Fox’s “willingness to work with us every week” allowed the application process to move more quickly, she added.

Fox “really saw our vision and our dreams for what this would be. I’m just really happy that Brown saw that as well,” Zhang said.

Due to the expedited nature of establishing the new program house, the AAA program plans on “starting small, establishing our presence and growing from there,” Zhang said. This will include forming the program’s executive board, for which the group is currently accepting applications, she added.

“We do want to spend a lot of time this semester and next semester (establishing) ourselves better, and then perhaps we might enter the rushing process in spring of next year,” Yang said.

The co-founders of the new program house completed recruitment of members March 7, in accordance with all program housing deadlines, Zhang said.

Greek and program houses are required to maintain a minimum of 15 active in-house members, according to Greek and Program House Housing policies.

Through an online Google Form application, the AAA program attracted interest from over 85 students, including international students from China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand and Korea, as well as some students from multiracial and non-Asian backgrounds, Zhang said.

Of the 85 students who applied, 25 students will be living in Buxton next fall. The remainder of accepted students will be recognized as “family members” who will not be living in-house but will still have swipe access to the Buxton building, Zhang said.

AAA program members will occupy the first two floors of Buxton, with access to the house’s kitchen, lounge and library, Yang said. The remainder of the building will be filled with independents placed in Buxton through the housing lottery.

The co-founders hope that the AAA program will provide a space for not only Asians but all students “who appreciate or are somehow involved in Asian culture,” Zhang said. “Definitely the stigma is that we only want Asians — that’s not true and we made that very clear to everyone when we were gathering interest in the house,” she added.

While Sobhit Singh Arora ’21, president of the now-suspended Buxton International House, expressed approval of the University’s support for new living-learning communities, the AAA program’s placement in Buxton has prompted concerns that housing may not be available should Buxton International House return in fall 2020.

“We love to see that the University is still promoting these diverse groups on campus and allowing new communities to grow and develop, but at the same time it does raise concern for us that (the University) may not have a space for us when we come back to campus,” Arora wrote in communication to The Herald. Buxton House “is special to us, after all we are named Buxton International House, and it just wouldn’t be Buxton International House if we got a new building,” he wrote.

Following an organization’s removal from campus, they must re-apply for housing after the University officially recognizes the group again, Fox wrote. However, residential space is not guaranteed for suspended programs hoping to return to campus. “It depends on how many new groups apply for spaces and get recognized and changes to existing spaces,” she wrote.

The AAA program had “no choice in where we would be placed,” Yang said. Still, the group recognizes the historical and cultural significance of the Buxton House. “We definitely respect Buxton’s history and Buxton’s linkage to the International House,” Zhang said.