The Wichita State Office of Diversity and Inclusion held the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American, or APIDA, installment of the ODI Listening Sessions on Monday. Students who identify as APIDA were encouraged to attend and share their experiences at WSU.
WSU leaders Vanessa Souriya-Mnirajd, Bobby Gandu, Sheelu Surrender, Richard Mai and Dr. Doris Chang attended the event and facilitated peer groups.
The leaders facilitated group conversations with students about their experiences with WSU as a whole, covering everything from the admissions process to individual student involvement. Students raised concerns such as difficulty fitting in even among other APIDA students as well as a lack of focus on retention over admission.
Questions were targeted around how students’ experiences as an APIDA student affected these areas.
“It’s very important, especially [with] students who are underrepresented here at Wichita State, to be identified and heard based on their experiences,” Quang Nguyen, Marketing Specialist of ODI, said. “We wanna hear their thoughts and feedback on our university climate.”
Students expressed feeling excluded from APIDA groups on campus because they are “cliquey” and wanting more of a focus on retention of students than just in the admissions process.
Nguyen stressed the importance of change starting with the voices of underrepresented students.
“It’s important that our university administration hears from the students themselves to be able to make these changes,” he said. “It’s a gradual process.”
Senior Jessica Tran, biological sciences major, said that she feels students often just have too little interest in making change to attend these events.
“I think it’s important to attend this event,” she said. “A lot of the time, people will complain about how things are ran but they won’t do things to change it.”
On the other hand, Tran noticed that opportunities similar to these events were fewer in previous years. She feels that the university’s initiative to reach out to underrepresented students has increased this semester.
“It’s definitely important to have initiative to go out to things,” Tran said.
Nguyen said that these events are crucial in bettering circumstances for minority students.
“We all think differently and we all interact differently,” Nguyen said. “We need to be able to work together to be respectful of each other.”