American University student Mei Tomko has a large role to fill as the Asian American Student Union’s Advocacy Chair this semester. The sophomore international studies major realizes the value of her role and the importance of inclusivity on AU’s campus.
“This semester we really want to focus on bringing our advocacy work to a more international, broader scale,” Tomko said about her role in the organization. She spoke of organizing an open dialogue with members of AASU and hosting a book club to facilitate the necessary discussions of race, identity and inclusivity. “Last semester we focused on a lot of Asian American issues, but this semester we want to bring it a little broader and focus on various issues impacting our country.”
Among those issues facing our country, Tomko specifically pointed out that political polarization is the issue that she feels is most important regarding the country. With so many different political leaders who all have many opposing viewpoints, it shows how disjointed and separate she feels the American leaders are on critical topics.
“I feel like both parties, from what I’ve seen, clearly see that there’s some sort of issue and want to address it, but I realized after watching the RNC and the DNC, I’m just trying to keep up with all of the different candidates and everything they’ve been talking about from all different sides,” she said.
Tomko also values her identity as a transracial Asian American adoptee and how that issue of finding her place among the social justice movements is impacted in her everyday life. “I was raised in a very rural white town in Pennsylvania with very few POC in my community, and then going away to DC and then coming back to try and talk about these subjects with my white family members is definitely a lot,” she said regarding these problems that face her own life.
While American University has faced these larger concerns regarding race and culture head on with the addition of the AUx freshmen seminar, Tomko believes that the course serves as a coverup for the larger issues that are more difficult for the University to face. She suggested more academic flexibility within majors and types of courses being offered in order to cater toward South Asian students’ requests to be more represented in courses.
While Tomko will be voting in this upcoming election via absentee ballot, she is unsure of how well politicians will be able to confront the issues most important to her, but her work as AASU Advocacy Chair will reflect the areas in which she feels her members need support.