The goal of the Indian American Student Association (IASA) is, and always has been, to create a close knit community among its members. We seek to preserve and cherish our culture while forging ahead and evolving as a community. The organization allows members to become active in social, political, cultural,and professional arenas. We face the unique task of incorporating our Indian culture and values with an ever-changing modern environment. This task is by no means an easy one, and IASA serves as a vehicle to meet every challenge that Indian American students on this campus face. We provide opportunities for students to connect with each other, while building bridges with other student groups and the University community. These avenues have been at the disposal of the membership for the last 18 years, and are at the heart of what IASA hopes to accomplish.

The goals of IASA remain unchanged despite the continually changing composition of its membership. Without these steadfast goals, the organization faces the possibility of losing focus and continuity from year to year. Oftentimes, certain segments of IASA’s membership are taken to represent the entire Indian American community. We would like to emphasize that IASA and Indian Americans are not interchangeable. Just as it is flawed to identify any student group (i.e. the Black Students Union, Filipino American Students Association, College Democrats) with the actions of all of its members, it is equally unfair to identify IASA with the opinions and actions of all of its members. Frankly, it is unfair to blame IASA for problems seen in the Indian American community as a whole. The organization is the product of the effort of those that dedicate themselves to it, and any outside stereotypes and actions of Indian Americans are irrelevant.

IASA does not speak for all Indian American students on this campus. Rather than acting with the possibility of alienating certain segments of the membership, IASA errs on the side of caution, leaving its members to speak for themselves. Even though membership is predominantly Indian American, IASA is open to the entire University community, which invites a myriad of differing and, often times, conflicting viewpoints. We recognize that the voice of the organization is not necessarily representative of the voice of each member, and for this reason, we exercise the utmost caution when attaching IASA’s name to controversial issues.

Critics of this system are quick to perceive IASA as being “passive” and only a “social clique.” While part of the organization’s goal is to create bonds between members, IASA does involve itself in other avenues. Year after year, our actions and events on this campus prove that IASA is an active organization.

IASA’s culture show, nationally acclaimed as one of the largest student-run productions in the country, puts Indian culture in the spotlight. It provides a positive medium for students to showcase their heritage and preserve their culture. One of the greatest achievements of this event lies in the fact that even people not of Indian descent choose to celebrate our culture with us by taking part in the show and by attending it year after year. This is the ultimate goal of the cultural show: To share and celebrate our culture with anyone and everyone.

IASA seeks to create unity on this campus beyond the Indian American community. We support the variety of student organizations that embrace their Indian culture and we work with them in order to advance certain causes. The existence of other “Indian” organizations on this campus is not a signal of fragmentation, but rather speaks to the rich diversity found in our culture and community. Our successful co-sponsored movie night with the Indian Students Association was an excellent step in building stronger relations amongst Indian groups on this campus. The process of working together is a long one, but with every group taking genuine steps toward this goal, a strong community can be created.

Any organization must be willing to accept compliments and criticisms in the same manner. It is the criticism that allows the organization to better itself by pointing out the flaws in the system that leaders often overlook. Those who wish to see change must simply demonstrate the initiative to lead by becoming a part of the IASA board through election or appointment. These procedures are purely democratic to ensure that the most qualified and dedicated individuals hold leadership positions.

IASA is an environment for people to create friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime. Above all, IASA is an organization that holds the interests of its members at heart, and strives to actively and wholeheartedly create a genuine sense of community.

The Indian American Student Association Board can be reached at iasa.board@umich.edu.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.