New Student Organization Hopes to Bring Cultural Experiences to EWU Campus


Photo credit to EWU Multicultural Center Website

By Cannon Barnett, Reporter

A group of students sat, gathered together in a moment of silence. The Monterey Bay shooting had left different emotions to play on each face, each of them uniquely intense. A nearby construction crew grew louder, and the way in which they filled what was intended to be silence with harsh, mechanical noise seemed to echo the unforgiving nature of reality which led to such tragedy in the first place. 

Each person in this room was a stranger to those around them, but they were all brought together in hopes of creating a community that perseveres in the face of everything the world might throw at them – A community that provides representation and opportunity for Asian and Asian American students at Eastern Washington University.

“Coming from two previous institutions, there were student organizations geared towards Asian and Asian American students, so I felt that it was something that deserved some investing and energy to see what the student community [at EWU] wanted and we had a really amazing response,” John Hoffschneider, Associate Director of EWU’s Multicultural Center, said.

On Jan 25, Students sat in a semi-circle of mismatched chairs and tossed out potential names for the organization and ideas that they had for programs. Night markets, open forums, calligraphy nights, and boba tea fundraisers were a few of the many events brought to the table.

Hoffschneider, who has been a leading force in getting the organization off the ground, says that it is important for students to feel that they are able to be around others like them and to be able to be a part of cultural communities. 

“It’s isolating,” one student at the meeting said. “I am at a disadvantage since I have trouble understanding English, and I don’t have friends in class.” She hopes that this organization will help to promote inclusion.

Another student hoped to learn more about their culture, and find a community for the first time outside of family, while a third wanted to find people with whom he could relate on a deeper level.

“When you are able to have a platform for people to talk and relate to [a cultural group], I think it provides a level of comfort, support, and a kind of community collective of encouraging students to pursue whatever their goals are,” Hoffschneider said.

Hoffschneider stresses the fact that this organization is an opportunity for students to learn, network, connect and have their voices heard.

“I think a lot of times students don’t realize that when you leave a college or university into, quote, ‘the real world,’ sometimes these opportunities can feel few and far between,” he said. “This is just one out of many, I would say, ways that a student can get involved and engaged, and this just happens to be one related to their own culture.”

While Hoffschneider has been working to get the organization off the ground, once it is up and running he plans to let students take over.

“I think by stepping out of the way, you are really empowering students to decide where they want to go with the student organization. Some years, it may be very social justice and politically minded. Some years, it may be more social and cultural. You have to allow it to be student-led because every generation of students coming in is going to change,” he said.

Hoffschneider says that his goal is for the organization to be up and running by the end of February.