A-Line Magazine celebrates its 20th anniversary and remembers what it has witnessed over the years. This piece also appeared in the Spring 2010 issue.
By Jessica Louie
Illustration By Christine Oh
When you pick up a copy of A-Line Magazine, it’s hard to imagine that there’s 20 years of history behind these colorful pages. It all began in 1990 when A-Line, originally called Asian Eye, was first established with the simple goal of promoting Asian and Asian American cultural, social, economic and political issues on campus. It wasn’t until Fall 1997 that Amnat Hong-Chittaphong, the president of Asian Students in America (ASIA) at the time, suggested a name change to something “sexier.” A-Line became the new name that ASIA’s general members and e-board agreed upon with the first issue of the new and improved publication coming out in Spring 1998.
During the year A-Line was established, its parent organization, ASIA, didn’t have much of a voice despite the fact it was the first Asian-interest student organization at SU. There was only a little over 100 Asians, including graduate students and TAs, according to Raymond Chin, the vice president of ASIA in 1991.
Now, in 2010, the SU campus has evolved dramatically and continues to become more diverse. So much so, in fact, that the demographics have remarkably increased from last year’s 8 percent Asian population to 10 percent this year.
The past 20 years have also elicited much growth from ASIA. The organization developed two main purposes for its existence: to unite Asian American SU students and to share Asian and Asian American culture and issues with those who were previously ignorant to them. By achieving these inspirational goals, ASIA hosted several events, which include Asian Awareness Week with a range of performers and artists to showcase their talents; cultural dinners serving Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisines; movie screening nights featuring documentaries or foreign films with Asians; as well as semi-formals and other social events.
As enjoyable as its internal events were, ASIA extended its reach to the SU community through its intercollegiate basketball and volleyball tournaments, which helped break the barriers between ASIA and other student organizations.
As a fundraiser, Chin took the opportunity to open the Syracuse doors to express school pride by holding men’s basketball and co-ed volleyball tournaments and inviting other college Asian organizations. Asian-interest organizations from all over the East Coast came, ranging from neighboring universities like Cornell, SUNY Buffalo and Binghamton, Stony Brook and RPI, to as far as NYU, St. John’s and Harvard. During the first couple of years, tournaments were organized in the Women’s Building and Archbold Gym. With successful tournaments under their belt, ASIA impressed Syracuse University officials to the point that they were granted the permission to host all types of tournaments in Flanagan Gym. The tournaments helped expose Syracuse University to minorities and placed ASIA on the map. While ASIA held many other events to educate SU about Asian culture and history, the sports tournaments motivated ASIA to educate publics outside the University and the organization.
ASIA soon inspired the launch of many other Asian-interest student organizations and the growth of the minority population at Syracuse University as a whole. Other Asian-interest clubs and organizations, like the Korean American Student Association (KASA), Hong Kong Cultural Organization (HKCO), Club Japan, South Asian Students Association (SASA) and Taiwanese Connection have all grown and successfully supported their members in the process.
However, not all of the memories during A-Line’s existence have been so positive. One of the most controversial issues that occurred in Syracuse University history was the Denny’s Incident in April 1997. The tragedy involved two Japanese men who were racially attacked in a Denny’s parking lot, even though there were security guards on duty to witness the situation. The security guards and the District Attorney of Syracuse, William Fitzpatrick, completely ignored the issue and wrote the case off as a drunken brawl instead of a racial assault. The Denny’s Incident inspired students to push the Asian and Asian American Studies (AAA) minor in order to grant the entire university with the chance to study the largest Diaspora in the world. For over 13 years, students fought for their rights to have a voice by promoting diversity within the multicultural community, and it has finally come into fruition in 2010.
This semester, A-Line is advocating to build physical, social and cultural bridges to merge all of our identities together into one community. Syracuse University’s multicultural community has grown into an empowerment group. And throughout the timeline of events, A-Line has influenced young students to actively exercise their powerful voices to create new and better accomplishments in the future.