The BYU Women of Color Club will host a vigil to remember victims of hate crimes and create a safe space for Asians and Asian Americans on May 5 at 7 p.m.
Other multicultural clubs such as the Korean Student Association, Indian Student Association, Filipino Club, Hispanos Unidos, Black Student Union, Tribe of Many Feathers, Taiwanese Student Association, Japanese Student Association and Vietnamese Student Association will also help organize the event.
BYU Women of Color Club president Israel Kyeisha Selway said she wanted to hold the vigil to give Asian and Asian American students the opportunity to speak out about how they feel.
“I wanted to give those of us in university the space to voice how we feel about what’s happening and how it’s affecting us, and how it’s affecting our families and communities,” Selway said.
BYU Filipino Club president Azsa Abito said holding the vigil will be important in supporting the Asian American community in Utah and on BYU campus.
“This event is vital for Asians and Asian Americans in Utah because it shows that we stand in solidarity with our people. We should especially support and hear each other out in times like this,” Abito said.
Both Abito and Selway have a goal in mind of bringing the Asian community together. Selway believes that gathering together as a community of Asians and Asian Americans will bring power, love and a sense of unity during this time.
“Asia isn’t a monolith, it’s the biggest continent in the world so of course we all have our own diverse cultures, languages, foods and histories,” Selway said. “But we can also find strength in a community as Asian immigrants and children of immigrants. It would be amazing for all of us to gather together, especially right now.”
Selway said BYU hasn’t really addressed the Atlanta shooting and the anti-Asian racism that occurs not just nationwide but also in Utah.
“The fact that I’m an Asian student and I haven’t really heard about anything happening for Asian students speaks to the fact that there isn’t enough representation and there not being enough of an effort by the university to make sure that Asian students are seen and are represented,” Selway said.
Other students also agree that having a vigil will be a good way for Asians and Asian Americans to come together to help educate and help other students understand the discrimination that occurs.
BYU mechanical engineering master’s student Josh Tsai is one of the many students that recognizes the positive impact the vigil will have on BYU students.
“I feel like this is a great idea because this is something that is really important and it doesn’t get very much attention,” Tsai said. “It’s one of these deep issues that hurts a lot of people that needs to be talked about, and for the first time we’re getting people to notice that and it’s something that people need to be aware of. I’m glad we’re talking about it.”
Selway and the organizers of the vigil hope it will help not just Asians and Asian Americans, but also help other students on BYU campus who aren’t part of that demographic to understand the pain, fear, sadness and joy Asians and Asian Americans experience.
“I hope that we’ll be able to be seen of all our complexities in the diverseness of our culture; that we won’t just be seen as a monolith. I hope that it will be a space for comfort, community, and that students will feel that they are seen and heard,” Selway said.
She added that she wants to let the students know they have a right to feel a range of emotions and the right to mourn and speak out about “these events and these atrocities.”
“I want more people to speak out more on social issues. Everyone needs to feel loved; people can feel left out in many different ways and this is just one aspect that we’re bringing to light that affects us as Asians and as a whole group of people,” Tsai said.
More information on the event and flyers can be found on the BYU Women of Color Club Instagram page.