As you may have noticed, the ECAASU website is undergoing a bit of transformation at the moment. In rummaging through our posts, I've found a bit of a legacy document written by someone (if you wrote it, come forward!) chronicling ECAASU throughout the years. Enjoy! --
As ECAASU enters the 21st century, we can proudly look back at a decade of organizing for social change. Over the years, we have made many gains, suffered setbacks, but always remained committed to our vision of social justice and equality that has inspired and touched the lives of thousands of Asian American students. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience from which to build and tackle tomorrow’s challenges. Together, we will shape our own future and build a more lust and democratic society for all.
Founded in the late 70?s in the midst of a conservative backlash ECASU has withstood the test of time with its ups and down’s and proven itself to be a viable and effective vehicle for Asian American sudent activism, networking, and empowerment. While ECASU was a product of the 70?s, it was the 60?s that gave its original spirit and vision.
The 60?s was a period of profound social transformation of U.S. society, driven forth by the Civil Rights struggles and the anti-war movement, and fueled by the awakening to the injustice and inequality rooted deep in the contractions of U.S. society. Asian Americans began to critically reexamine our own experiences. Disillusioned and outraged at the u.s. war of aggression in Vietnam, Asian American students were among the first to organize anti-war protests, realizing that we shouldn’t be fighting abroad but here at home to better our conditions.
Inspired by the Civil Rights struggles, Asian American students fought along side other Third World students at San Francisco State and across the country to demand that the University serve the people and open its doors to students of color. After exhausting all channels of communications, Third World students resorted to rallies, sit-ins, and takeovers that forced the University to open its doors. For the first time in U.S. history, we won the right to a quality education and enter universities and colleges in significant numbers. Ethnic studies and other supportive programs were established to made education relevant to us.
During the early 70?s, Asian American organizations were established to deal concretely with the needs and concerns of our people. Asian American student organizations (ASO’s) were formed on campuses throughout the East Coast to address the issues of identity and educational rights. Some Asian American students went back “to serve our community” and formed community organizations to address basic issues of housing and health services.
Just when we felt we had made progress, efforts were already underway to turn back the clock to the pre-60?s “good old days.” In 1977, the Supreme Court upheld Allen Bakke’s claim that he had not been admitted to UC Davis medical school due to 11reverse discrimination.” This decision symbolized an all-out attack on the gains made In the 60?s. It also sparked a huge struggle led by Third World students against this decision. The decision was a statewide challenge that required a new level of organization. Rallying against the Bakke Decision, Asian American students recognized the need for a network capable qt providing a broader perspective, mutual support, and the capacity for collective action. This led to the founding of the West Coast Asian Pacific Student Union (APSU), the Midwest Asian Pacific American Student Organization network, and ECASU, with regions in the Mid-Atlantic and New England.
The 80?s was a period of conservatism with the Right on the move in attacking not only Affirmative Action, but also questioning: reproductive rights, language rights, freedom of speech, social services, environment, and “back to basics” in education. It was the “me” generation bombarded with “careerism” without any sense of social responsibility. As Asian Americans, we were touted as the “successful” “model minority In Newsweek and Time so that perhaps we would turn our back on our community and other people of color. All this came in the midst of wording economy anddeclining U.S. influences globally.
And the legacy continues…