Dear friends, advocates, and community members,
ECAASU is committed to protecting our conference attendees and creating an inclusive space for all identities. In recent months, North Carolina has become a battleground for marginalized communities and people may feel unsafe coming to our conference located in Raleigh. With issues ranging from HB-2 to voter restriction laws to talks about a Muslim registry, North Carolina has created a political climate aimed to suppress and silence our voices. Comprised of a diverse group of students within the state, the conference team has experienced and witnessed the oppression and discriminatory actions of the state government. With that understanding of concern for our fellow attendees, the conference team has implemented several safeguards and strategies.
Our vision for this year’s conference is to show up and support our local communities, and create a space in North Carolina where we hope conference attendees will feel loved, welcomed, and safe. We are integrating the following initiatives and programs into the 2017 ECAASU Conference:
- Gender-neutral bathrooms at the conference center
- Pronouns will be suggested as an optional write in option on all name tags
- All entrances excluding the main door to the conference center will be secured and locked
- Anyone entering the venue must pass the front desk to get inside
- All conference attendees will be required to wear nametags and lanyards to identify them as attendees
- No one without a nametag or credentials will be allowed into the conference center
- Participants will have a direct line to NCSU campus police. Phones at the McKimmon Center’s front desk and throughout the building will go straight to campus police; this guarantees a faster response than dialing 911. The conference committee will also always be on hand to address concerns for those who don't feel comfortable or would rather not call the police.
- A designated safe space for conference participants
- A confidential reporting system through our conference app. Reports will be addressed immediately once received.
- As per the code of conduct, the conference team reserves the right to remove anyone who is caught harassing other attendees or is otherwise deemed problematic
In addition, the 2017 ECAASU conference is being held at the McKimmon Center at North Carolina State University (NCSU). NCSU has publicly addressed HB2 and their commitment to protect the LGBTQIA+ community. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) and Duke University are also supporting the conference and have also released statements about HB2 that can be found here and here.
Why ECAASU? Why here, in North Carolina, the heart of some of the oppression and exclusion of marginalized communities in America?
ECAASU’s mission is to inspire, educate and empower those interested in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) issues. The conference brings thousands of students, community leaders, and national organizations to address the relevant issues facing our community today through the lens of students and youth. The conference sparks the passion within our students to bring about change in North Carolina and across the country to increase engagement amongst our fellow AAPI students to be advocates for our community and the advancement of social justice.
It is easy to inadvertently disengage from those working to create change as well as those who live in NC by turning our heads away from North Carolina in boycott. However, this is harmful — we must directly engage with issues if we want any change to be made. How can we stand in solidarity if we’re not even present? Stand with ECAASU in solidarity and support local, grassroots organizations that work on the ground in North Carolina. The narrative of what it means to be AAPI does not often include the experiences of those living in the South. In fact, it often excludes AAPIs with the common misconception that the South is a racial binary. We must fight the erasure of marginalized and forgotten communities, no matter where they are.
ECAASU believes in the power of students, our generation of leaders, to change this country and the world. We recognize the power and strength that comes from bringing together all the unique voices and experiences and resources of students from different universities. We want to build coalitions and elevate the voices of people who are at the margins of even the AAPI community. The AAPI community in the Triangle and in the South often feels more disconnected and isolated than in other regions of the country; we want to change that. We want to show AAPI students in the South, and especially in North Carolina, that they are not alone. What is incredibly powerful is that we always continue to stand up and fight for our rights as humans and people who belong in this country. We hope that by hosting the ECAASU conference in North Carolina this year, AAPI students, especially those in the South and in North Carolina, will be able to find support and hope among each other, as well as learn strategies to better stand in solidarity with other marginalized communities.
Samantha Lin, Conference Director
Kathryn Quintin, Executive Director
June Kao, Chair, Board of Directors