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Best Colleges for AAPI Students: University of Pennsylvania

This month, to kick off the school year, we’re partnering with Angry Asian Man to bring you a very special list of The Best Colleges and Universities for AAPI Students. Last week we profiled five colleges and universities. This week we’re profiling another five colleges and universities  (in no particular order). Today's campus is...

University of Pennsylvania
Private University
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founded: 1740
Enrollment: 10,275 undergrads
API population: About 20%, but we’re not sure because UPENN makes their data really hard to find, and doesn’t seem to separate their numbers between Asian international students and domestic Asian American students.  Is the administration trying to hide something?   
Interesting fact: The Greenfield Intercultural Center is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Penn founded the center in response to activism and organizing by students of color, including AAPIs.

The University of Pennsylvania is the best university for AAPIs. Getting students to care and to speak up about what the AAPI community needs and deserves has been the overall strategy in creating the type of AAPI community we have at Penn today. – A Nominator

At Penn, Asian Americans have created a space on campus, especially at the Pan-Asian American Community House that affirms AAPI students’ sense of identity, and provides them with a home, which serves as a foundation for advocacy and activism initiatives. Resources at Penn include the interdisciplinary program and minor in Asian American Studies, which was started in response to community activism, the Pan-Asian American Community House (PAACH), which serves as the “home away from home” for students, the Asian Pacific American Leadership Initiative (APALI), the PEER (Promoting Enriching Experiences and Relationships) program, and Asian Pacific Student Coalition (APSC), and much more.

Recently, APSC has been involved in some very high profile campaigns on campus to improve the University for all students.  In 2008, Asian American student leaders stepped up and organized protests against the administration’s 25 % budget cuts targeting the Asian American Studies program, which would have effectively eliminated the unit. APSC successfully organized against the cuts.  In 2007, after a controversial racial profiling incident, APSC in conjunction with four other umbrella minority coalitions led a campaign forcing the University to conduct a Campus Climate survey.  Discontented that the administration would not include students in the study’s implementation and analysis of results, student leaders have committed to conducting their own Campus Climate survey, due in 2010.

APSC’s involvement in off-campus issues, particularly the recent city proposal for a casino in Philly Chinatown has been equally impressive.  APSC helped educate Penn students about the possible effects of a casino in Chinatown, especially given the gaming industry’s history of predatory practices targeting AAPI populations, and should be commended for participating in the successful community-wide coalition effort to stop the casino from being built in Chinatown.  In the next year, APSC plans to focus on increasing AAPI participation in the 2010 Census.

The AAPI community at Penn is definitely dynamic, and that's why they're in our top ten.  Good luck with the Campus Climate survey and all the other projects!

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

Anonymous Coward (not verified) on Mon, 09/21/2009 - 09:56

The Pan-Asian American Community House is the best resource on campus and makes the Penn experience completely unique! 

SMC (not verified) on Mon, 09/21/2009 - 15:27

Looking back as an alum, I have to say that PAACH really defined my college experience. I'm so glad that Penn's APA community is getting recognized for all the amazing work throughout the years.

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