With the frenzy of Club Expo still fresh in student’s minds, it is the perfect time to learn more about the clubs and affinity groups whose names sounded unfamiliar until the club heads shouted it out in the Stu-Fac to attract prospective members. The East Asian Students Association, more commonly known as EASA (EE-sah), is a prominent affinity group on campus, whom you might remember for their delicious food and sweatshirts they sold at Club Expo.
EASA is a multifaceted affinity group. One of the four EASA co-heads, Lena Cantor ’23, explained, “Our goal is to make a safe space for East Asian students who want to talk about issues they might face here or cultural differences, or who just want to make new friends.” She mentioned that the affinity group can serve as a community within a community to support East Asian students. On one hand, “[We spend time] talking about prevalent issues that are going on today; [it’s great that] we are able to express our frustration about [social issues],” Lena said. However, she also explained, “[EASA is] chill [group] where we can watch a TV show, or just order food and sit together and eat.”
Lena explained that her own introduction to the club inspired her. It motivated her to become a leader and change the way students receive their first impression of the group. Lena, who is half-Japanese, noted, “I remember how I was originally really scared to go to the club, and I felt like I shouldn’t go because I couldn’t tell if I was ‘Asian enough.’ I just felt like I had some sort of expectation that I was supposed to follow through on, especially because at my old school there was no affinity group for East Asian students.” She explained that it was her confusion about the club that prevented her from attending her first meeting until late freshman year. Lena’s experience prompted her to make changes within the club. “[I] wanted to become a leader just so that I could express [who was welcome] and make people feel welcome, especially freshmen who are just trying to adjust to the CA life,” she said. Lena believes EASA provides another layer of support, community, and friendship to unadjusted freshman, and she strives to ensure that every East Asian student knows that they are welcomed in the group.
So what is in store for EASA this year? Lena’s answer: lock-ins, collaborative meetings, and as much take-out as possible. She said, “A lock-in is kind of like a dinner in the SHAC where we order a bunch of take-out food and we have a ton of games. […] All of the money we are able to raise will be put to good take-out!” She paused, then clarified, “[No one is] actually locking anyone in a room.” Lena explained that the club hopes to collaborate with the other Asian affinity groups (SASS [South Asian Society], SEAS [Southeast Asian Society]), MESO (Multiethnic Students Organization), QPOC (Queer Students of Color), and more. She mentioned that she particuarlly would like to work with IFO (Inteserctional Feminists Organization), saying, “[I want to] talk about the effects of feminism on Asian culture as well as different societal expectations here [in America] and in East Asia.”
EASA certainly has much to look forward to this year. The other co-heads are Jerry Zong ’23, Joanne Oh ’23, and Yehjin Hwang ’24, and they have a lot planned.