The HMoob American Studies Committee, a student-led activist group, spearheaded a research project aimed at uncovering the experiences of Hmong students at the University of Wisconsin. The committee reported that all participants in the project felt excluded and unwelcome on campus. The following is a response to the research from the Hmong American Student Association.

HASA is the largest Hmong student organization present at UW. For the past 30 years, HASA has proudly presented a variety of meaningful events that range from socials to professional development workshops to cultural conferences for their members and members of the greater Madison community to participate in every year.

HASA is one of the strongest student-lead organizations on our campus. People know HASA and that is why our statement in response to HMASC’s research is necessary. We may not speak for all Hmong students enrolled at this institution, but we represent them, and we will stand by them.

‘I Am Here’ project brings together Hmong students to discuss community challengesMembers of University of Wisconsin’s Hmong community met in the Multicultural Student Center Wednesday evening to discuss challenges within and Read…

We understand that HMASC’s research may not be everyone’s experience. But we feel it is important to address the fact that scholars do feel out of place and/or excluded here on campus. It is common for Hmong scholars and other students of color to feel as if they don’t belong when they enter a lecture hall of 300 students and there is no one who looks like them. Whether we consciously recognize it or not, there’s a gut feeling of not belonging present.  

HMASC’s research has positive intentions. There may have been a number of scientific procedural changes that could have enhanced the research, but the findings are important. As an organization that provides a safe place for people of color, specifically Hmong scholars, HASA does agree that UW has limited spaces for students of color. There is no doubt there are places on this campus that students of color prefer more than others. People who visit our campus will see this to be evident as well. HMASC recognizes this issue and wants to bring forth change.

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Our community, regardless of racial backgrounds, must reflect on how and why we are able to have places like the Multicultural Student Center that is based in UW’s Red Gym. If it weren’t for advocates like HMASC, the university would not have the Black Cultural Center, the APIDA Cultural Center or the LatinX Cultural Center. Granted, the APIDA and LatinX Cultural Centers were only recently established.  

Inclusivity is still lacking on our campus, but there is progress. That is what’s important and that is what we should highlight. These are the small steps leading to a greater movement. We are aware of the controversial views that some audiences have in regards to HMASC’s research but HASA will not comment on them. Rather, we want to encourage our Hmong community and our fellow POCs to keep fighting for inclusivity and equality.

The Hmong American Student Association ([email protected]is a registered student organization at the University of Wisconsin. They seek to support students, community leaders and scholars within the Hmong community, promote higher education, address the concerns and needs of students and the Hmong community on campus, and serve as a channel to develop, display and recognize the talents and creativity of the students.