In the November 22, 2010 Issue of Maclean’s Magazine, a controversial article titled “Too Asian?” was published. The writer Stephanie Findlay contacted the Chinese Varsity Club in hopes to interview us about “commuter students and general university school life”, she expressed interest in how she felt the Chinese Varsity Club had captured a niche of commuter students.
During the interview we explained perhaps this phenomenon was due to the fact of our consistent on-campus branding and also the universal appeal of a social club that was open to students of different backgrounds. Although for most of the interview we talked about the importance of social wellness and how we constantly celebrate our member and executives’ diversity. Unfortunately later we found out she went on to release an article that drew extensively upon Asian stereotypes and insinuated that the influx of Asian students is detrimental to the Canadian university experience. Below are my thoughts:
Response to “Too Asian?” by Macleans
as published in UBC Perspectives
What is frustrating about the Macleans “Too Asian” article is that they have stereotyped ‘Asians’ as students who are so socially inept and absorbed into their academics that they threaten to take away a ‘proper’ University experience from other Canadian students. They also go ahead to stereotype Caucasian students as those who couldn’t care more or less about the educational aspects of university and are only making their university choices based on just socializing, alcohol, and partying. University is neither about just studying nor just partying, it is about having dreams, aspirations, hopes of becoming a professional, and also going further in life. What Maclean’s has failed to realize is that there are Asian students who are currently in university pursuing an education because they actually want to. These students are here because they are highly active students both within academic and social spheres.
If you talked to any of these students, you will quickly realize that they are absolutely nothing like Macleans’ stereotype of an “Asian student”. There are many reasons why these students have decided to go to University, and it goes without saying that many of them have worked very hard to get where they are. Let us not forget that Canadian university admissions are based on meritocracy. The choice to attend a post-secondary institution is rarely exclusively based on prospective promises of partying, alcohol, or ethnicity. Maclean’s claims that Asian students are self-segregating with their own networks of social clubs. This is entirely untrue, as these social clubs do not further segregate Asian students from “mainstream” campus life, rather they create opportunities for like-minded students to be able to interact with each other in positive social settings outside of classroom environments. It is not social segregation, rather, it is the continual push for student social wellness, and the constant desire of students to be well-rounded while pursuing their academic endeavors.
80 years ago at the University of British Columbia, Chinese students were placed into a mandatory student group based purely on their Chinese ethnicity. However 80 years later, this very group, the Chinese Varsity Club, has developed into the largest Alma Mater Society social club, harboring a diverse and multi-ethnic executive and membership body. It is interesting to see how a group formed historically out of forced segregation has now progressed into a collective student group in which modern Canadian ideals such as social wellness, being well rounded, and diversity is constantly being demonstrated and celebrated. The Chinese Varsity Club knows that students at university might sometimes feel as though they end up sacrificing their social lives for academics. We are consistently focused on providing students with that important outlet.
Originally, the Maclean’s writer informed us originally that she wanted to interview us regarding UBC ‘commuter students’, however at the end she suddenly revealed that she was writing about the concern of Asian students in universities. Nevertheless it was not surprising that Maclean’s could barely use anything from our extensive interview since we continually provided evidence of how Asian students were not just those stereotypes as what was asserted in the final article. Being a responsible Canadian means that we should be open-minded and not fall victim to making irresponsible claims by generalizing and using stereotypes. Although Maclean’s has generalized that the inability to socialize is indicative to all Asians, we here at the Chinese Varsity Club could not disagree any more.
Chinese Varsity Club