Asian Student Association works to improve race relations
by Raquel Ronzone
More than a year after the racial violence at South Philadelphia High School, the Asian Students Association of Philadelphia is not slowing down.
The organization, which formed after the 2009 attacks, has traveled to Houston and Washington, D.C., for student conferences and rallied for increased education about diversity and stronger measures to prevent student harassment.
Last December, after the group and other advocates demanded action, the District reached a legal agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to implement a long-term plan for addressing anti-Asian violence at South Philly.
Some of the agreement's requirements include training staff and students on multicultural awareness, promptly investigating all harassment allegations, and notifying victims and their parents as well as accused students and their parents of any allegations.
"That was one of our most important victories," said the association's secretary, Duong Nghe Ly.
"But we will still observe the District to see if they are doing their job."
Ly said there have been some curriculum improvements at South Philly –Mandarin is now offered as a language option for students – but much more can be done academically to address diversity.
Next, the group plans to put its attention on other high schools, namely Bok and Furness, to help improve their climate.
"We want to create a strong foundation of students who know what to do to prevent school violence" no matter where they go to school, he said.