On Monday, the Wichita State Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American, or APIDA, installment of the ODI listening sessions. Students who identify as APIDA have been encouraged to attend and share their experiences at WSU.
WSU leaders Vanessa Souriya-Mnirajd, Bobby Gandu, Sheelu Surrender, Richard Mai and Dr. Doris Chang attended the event and facilitated peer groups.
Leaders facilitated group conversations with students about their experiences with WSU as a whole, covering everything from the admissions process to individual student participation. Students raised concerns such as difficulty fitting in even among other APIDA students as well as a lack of emphasis on retention rather than admission.
The questions focused on how students’ experiences as APIDA students affected these areas.
“It’s very important, especially [with] students who are underrepresented here at Wichita State, need to be identified and heard based on their experiences,” said Quang Nguyen, ODI Marketing Specialist. “We want to hear their thoughts and feedback on our university climate.”
Students have expressed feelings of being left out of APIDA groups on campus because they are “cliquey” and want to focus more on student retention than the admissions process.
Nguyen emphasized the importance of change starting with the voices of underrepresented students.
“It is important that our university administration hears from the students themselves so that we can make these changes,” he said. “It’s a gradual process.”
Senior Jessica Tran, a bioscience major, said she thinks students often have too little interest in making changes to attend these events.
“I think it’s important to attend this event,” she said. “Most of the time people complain about the way things are run, but they won’t do anything to change it.”
On the other hand, Tran noticed that opportunities similar to these events were fewer in previous years. She believes the university’s initiative to reach out to underrepresented students has grown this semester.
“It’s definitely important to have the initiative to get things out,” Tran said.
Nguyen said these events are crucial to improving the situation of minority students.
“We all think differently and we all interact differently,” Nguyen said. “We have to be able to work together to be respectful of each other.”