Life-Long Learning by Dillon Gadoury

Dillon Gadoury is the A.S. Director of Communications. In this Spartan Voice by A.S. Blog, Dillon shares his story on Life-Long Learning, one of eight Core Values in the Associated Students Strategic Plan. Read more about our organization’s values in the A.S. Strategic Plan here.

A Love Letter!

There was only one thing about school that reassured me in knowing that everything was going to be okay. It was never because of the friends I made or the good grades I never got. It wasn’t because of that FAFSA check or the cute girls in any of my classes. It was the understanding that there was always another year to look forward to. Whether it was the jump to being the big 5th grader of my elementary school or the long-anticipated move of being a frosh in college, there was always a future version of me to chase.

As I write this now in my final year of school, higher education or whatever you want to call it, I know now that the future served as a symbol of a second chance. A second opportunity to prove myself or at least be that person I wish I would’ve been. These past seventeen years of learning are now coming to a close as I get ready to graduate on what seems to be the scariest stage of my life; a stage that once I cross is going to end the only constant theme in my life: school. And as much as I got into trouble, failed tests or lied to my teachers, school somehow wrapped its arms around me and quite possibly gave me the best childhood that I could have ever imagined. 

I think some of us take it all for granted. What a joy to learn and grow up alongside my childhood best friends simply because of the same school we go to; and then we get to repeat that all over again. Everyone told me to “make the most of your college years.” They said “it’s going to fly by,” and those people were absolutely right. Four years later, I look back now and see my inner child rooting for younger Dillon in all those moments I doubted myself. 

Despite the chaotic journey that school has shown me, I’ve been able to actually learn quite a few things. Here are some of those things I wish younger Dillon learned sooner.

Put Fear in Your Daily Toolkit

Fear gets a pretty bad rep. When was the last time someone said, “Oh I love fear!” or “Fear is the best thing ever!” Probably never. Fear holds you back from a lot of things. It makes you second guess yourself and puts anxiety on the forefront of your actions and any decision making. But if you’ve ever dipped into that fear, you’ll realize that fear is the only thing in this world that is constantly looking out for you; leverage that.

I’m a firm believer that the best things in life are placed on the other side of fear. When we allow fear to dictate our actions, we limit ourselves and miss out on potentially life-changing opportunities. That’s why the point of maximum fear is also the point of maximum growth. You’re now challenging yourself to be in an unfamiliar environment doing something you would have never done; and that is amazing. Finally joining that one club you’ve been telling yourself to join, traveling to an unfamiliar city or even letting that girl know you have a crush on her, these are moments filled with fear, but also pure bliss. There were many times I let fear dictate moments of my college experience. It all started four years ago moving away from my chosen family to SJSU, with a stranger for a roommate, and no friends to fall back on. Until you realize that everything about college elicits fear, you’ll then realize that nothing can hold you back. 

Every day we hope to grow into a future version of ourselves that we can be proud of. Leverage fear in your daily toolkit as a reminder that you are challenging yourself and taking strides towards that future version of yourself you’re chasing. 

Chase that future version of yourself

It’s funny the way life works. I always dreamed about going to school in New York City, and if not that, maybe the idea of living there one day when I graduated college or figured my life out. That dream was always there in high school and stayed in the back of my head throughout college. Crazy thing is, here I am 25 days before I graduate college, and 28 days before I move to New York City to start my dream job. Yet, here I am still chasing a version of myself that I am not yet satisfied with. I’m chasing the future version of me that is already there in the city with all of his friends, maybe in his cozy apartment and working hard at his new job.

A year ago, I chased the current me. The Dillon that was about to graduate college, the Dillon that had a good head on his shoulders, and the Dillon that is currently writing this blog. Chasing the future version of ourselves is a great thing, maybe the best thing. It leaves us unsatisfied with what is, but goes after what could be. It’s a gentle reminder that no matter what has already been said and done, there will always be another page to look forward to in whatever chapter you’re in. I learned to chase that future version of me every year of school on the baseline of a K-12 school system. 

Everyday, week, month, and year of my life, I was always looking forward to another version of myself; a future me that was maybe more successful or even a little happier. My hero was that future version. I’m never going to be my own hero. I’m never going to attain that, and that’s just alright with me. That future version of myself will always be 10 steps ahead in my timeline. That version of me who I could have only dreamt of days, weeks, months or years before, keeps me chasing. 

Dreaming with eyes wide open 

So many of us, myself included, give up on our passions and aspirations because they seem unattainable or don’t fit within our given timeline. We imagine a future where we have achieved our goals, where we are happy and fulfilled. But the truth is, a lot of us only see these dreams when we close our eyes. Screw that. Having a dream or passion that you love is so rare to find, never give it up.

I always hear people say “I wish this” or “I would do that but.” They already lost. High school me loved making music, graphic design, film, art, all of the above! In the middle of everything college threw at me, I gave up on a lot of those things. I got caught up on homework, my social battery, professional development, and everything that comes with growing up. Underneath it all, I always craved that inner-child of mine who loved creating art! I always craved living in a world where I could just focus on those passions and nothing else. Dreaming with your eyes wide open means holding onto those aspirations and working towards them every day. It means believing in yourself and your abilities when nobody else will. 

If there is one person reading this or maybe even 10, please please, please, be selfish about doing what you love! Bet on yourself! Be your biggest advocate! You gotta do what makes you happy, no one is going to do it for you. 


I recognize that everything I’ve mentioned here is a lot easier said than done. It took me 21 years of hard-earned empathy, challenging perspectives, and lots of listening to get to where I am now.

I’d like to extend my unwavering gratitude to everyone that has been a part of my journey, big or small. 18-year-old me came into college timid and scared of what could be. I leave now full of ambitions with an attitude in my willingness to learn and grow. 

To my childhood best friends Mike, Ti, and Nam, I love you guys more than life; thank you for constantly being my rock.

Justice & Advocacy by Nina Chuang

Nina Chuang is the A.S. President. In this Spartan Voice by A.S. Blog, Nina shares her story on Justice and Advocacy, two of eight Core Values in the Associated Students Strategic Plan. Read more about our organization’s values in the A.S. Strategic Plan here.

Know History, Know Self: Finding My Voice through Associated Students

Alexa, play “Yellow” by Loft Fruits Music.

Around 1985, two Asian immigrants came to America to pursue higher education and better opportunities for their family. They met in San Jose and had two daughters. My Taiwanese father and Malaysian Chinese mother taught my younger sister and me from a young age the importance of tradition, culture, and pride in one’s heritage.

Growing up in the melting pot that is Fremont, California, I was used to being in spaces with people from diverse backgrounds and identities. I remember proudly wearing my qipao in elementary school for Lunar New Year, and my go-to food to bring to school potlucks was fried red bean sesame balls from my local Chinese bakery. On Saturdays, I attended the Fremont Chinese School where I learned to speak Mandarin, and ate tea eggs made by local Taiwanese grandmas out of their minivans. During cultural holidays, I would call my grandparents and family who were halfway across the world and tried my best to communicate with them in my broken Chinese. I share more about my mixed Asian identity here.

Despite my practices in living authentically my identity as a first generation American, I also had the typical ABC (American Born Chinese) experience; seeing my friends crinkle their nose when I opened my bento, comments about stinky food and the clothes I wore, pulling of eyes, and being questioned as a kid about where I was from. I never truly questioned why I experienced this; there were moments of frustration, but I thought it was normal for someone like me to experience because I was different, after all.

“I am the product of two worlds colliding.”
I began to be curious about the term “Asian American” in high school. I googled the term and for the first time, I read about community uprisal, activism, and social justice. These included the lives of individuals who looked just like me. I knew this was somehow connected to who I was, but there was no one around me that knew about this history or who could explain why injustice in our community happens or how it connected to the microaggressions I continued to experience. 

I made an art piece with a collage of images of stereotypes of Americans on one side, and images of stereotypes of Asians on the other, with a woman wearing a qipao in the center. I remember struggling to express how I felt on paper or vocally about this merge of identities that I held. I tried to express this inner turmoil I felt about it through this piece.

Nina Chuang
An Asian American Woman, 2017
Collage, Acrylic Paint and Marker
An original piece and self portrait of the experience of an Asian American Woman.

Connecting with my roots through education and history during my time at San Jose State allowed me to grow in understanding of my identity as an Asian American woman. I had the opportunity to question and look at our system as a whole, and began to truly find my voice. And finding my voice through Associated Students has blessed me with the opportunity to advocate and serve as a student leader.

There is a powerful quote that is familiar to social justice spaces, “Know History, Know Self. No History, No Self.” by Jose Rizal, the Philippine national hero. This quote teaches and reminds us that understanding our historical background and culture is integral to understanding of self, of who we are, and where we are going.

Before college, I had very few opportunities to learn about the history of the Asian American community. When I envisioned the word, “history,” I imagined dusty books and scrolls sitting in a bookshelf.

In my first semester of college in 2018, I took my first Asian American Studies class with Dr. Heien Do for 33A. I sat in the back of the room, a shy frosh, not knowing what to expect. As the semester went on, learning about topics such as the politicization of the issues of our community, silencing of community voices, model minority myth, injustice towards our brothers and sisters, I found myself leaving the classroom with this fire burning in my chest. I began sitting in the front and asking questions. There was this sense of urgency now. 

I, finally, as an 18 year old, in my experience as an Asian American woman, started to learn to truly understand my identity and the term “Asian American” in a safe space. Taking Asian American history classes in college was integral for me to understand who I was as an individual, where I come from, and how to proudly represent my identities in the spaces I am in. 

It is important for our student community at San Jose State and beyond to not only see ourselves in our textbooks, but also have the same opportunity to grow in the understanding of one’s history and self.

Recognizing our History

Remembering Executive Order 9066 - Golden Gate National Recreation Area (U.S. National Park Service)

In 1942, Executive Order 9066 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which gave the U.S. army the authority to remove civilians from military zones established in Washington, Oregon, and California during World War II.  Executive Order 9066 cited “military necessity” as the basis of incarcerating Japanese Americans. This led to the forced removal and incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, who had to abandon their jobs, their homes, and their lives to be sent to one of ten concentration camps scattered in desolate, remote regions of the country. These sites included: Tule Lake, California; Minidoka, Idaho; Manzanar, California; Topaz, Utah; Jerome, Arkansas; Heart Mountain, Wyoming; Poston, Arizona; Granada, Colorado; and, Rohwer, Arkansas

The forced relocation and incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans, many of whom were American citizens, without any evidence of wrongdoing, was a discriminatory and racist act fueled by fear and prejudice. The denial of due process, attack on civil liberties, and the generational harm caused to the Japanese American community, made particularly visible in San José’s Japantown commemorations, shed light on the atrocities that result from discrimination and Anti-Asian hate.

San José State University played a significant role in the forced removal and incarceration of local Japanese Americans during Executive Order 9066. Yoshihiro Uchida Hall, formerly known as Spartan Complex, served as a processing center for Japanese internment at San Jose State University. 2,487 Japanese Americans were processed before being forced on buses to concentration camps in unknown locations for unknown time frames. This included having Japanese American employees and students of the university assist in the processing of their own community members. – Helen Mineta and Phil Matsumura.

I had the privilege of putting together a two-month long exhibit alongside Dr. Yvonne Kwan from April to May in 2022 called, “Reckoning Our Past, Engaging the Present, Facing the Future: An Exhibit Recognizing San Jose State’s Role in Anti-Asian Racism and the Incarceration of Japanese Americans.” Dr. Kwan and I went to the Special Archives in the MLK, Jr. Library in search of documents and archives of what the school had during that time. I remember these archives being wheeled out in black boxes, which had various tags on them. In these boxes, there were flyers that were posted on campus notifying the community about informative meetings on the camps, large files of information on Japanese American students, photos of the Japanese club, and more.

It was really surreal reading documents and looking at pictures of students who looked like me, that were not only forced to camp in the middle of college, but also the violation of privacy and information that was most likely unknown to them. I remember after this session, going to the MLK Library bathroom, and crying. I was trying to mentally process and understand, thinking “Why didn’t I learn about this before?” and “How could our government and institutions do this to us?”

Being a student at SJSU with my identity as an Asian American woman, stepping foot on the very grounds where my Japanese American brothers and sisters were processed and unjustly mistreated by the institution I attend continues to baffle me to this day. 

The fact that I serve as Student Body President for an institution that was complicit for this injustice to happen makes me feel like a contradiction. As a representative of the thousands of current students with various identities who attend our school, and those who came before me, I began to ask my peers and faculty if they knew about our institution’s history with Executive Order 9066. A majority didn’t know.

This “dusty” history, wheeled out in seven black boxes on a squeaky cart, became a call to action. The Spartan community – now and future generations – should know about what occurred to fellow students, our elders, and our allies. on our campus. To better understand our institution, we must acknowledge and condemn this injustice, and take the steps to make sure this never happens again, to any group on campus. Understanding and increasing awareness of this part of our campus’ history is integral to the healing that must occur in order for our University to advance forward in serving our students and Spartan community. 

Connecting with the Community

One month after hosting this exhibit with artifacts from JAMSJ and the SJSU Special Archives, I began my term as Associated Students President. On June 1st in 1942, the SJS (now SJSU) Student Body President Don True walked with Japanese and Japanese American SJS students to the train stations to board trains to go to concentration camps for unknown time frames. Eighty years later, on my first day as A.S. President, on June 1st in 2022, we dedicated Cranes of Remembrance by walking with 2,487 cranes folded by students and staff around Yoshihiro Uchida Hall in honor of the 2,487 lives impacted and processed at the Boy’s Gym. This small group of administrators, students, faculty, and staff gathered in the community and had dialogue in this gym, to process and learn from one another.

Throughout this process of learning to recognize this history, hosting events on campus for dialogue, and working on various projects on this topic, a community that emerged as an amazing support system was the local Japantown community leaders and elders. These special people continued to take time out of their day to educate this ignorant, young Asian American girl about their days at SJSU, their lives, and the advocacy for Asian American studies during the Third World Liberation movement. Driven by their advocacy, amazing leadership, and support, we advocated together for the creation of a new campus tradition: Day of Remembrance at San Jose State. This new event is a community ritual that emerged from the Redress Movement as a grassroots means of uniting and mobilizing Japanese Americans to win reparations. It was a precedent-setting achievement which showed that reparations are possible.

I learned about this tradition while sitting in front of Roy’s Coffee shop on a sunny day with Victoria Taketa, who has been a constant advocate for students in her career, during and after her time at San Jose State. Sometimes after we had a coffee chat at Roy’s, Vickie would walk me to various areas in Japantown that were of historical significance – from the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, the community building that use to serve as a hospital, benches of history, the train stop where the community boarded the train to camps, etc. We talked about ways we could work together with the JTown community to advocate for this acknowledgment of history. From the inspirational words of Vickie and engaging conversations at Roy’s, the idea of having an institutionalized educational Day of Remembrance at SJSU was born.

Outside of A.S., I also serve as a Student Research Assistant for Dr. Yvonne Kwan, who is an amazing professor for Asian American studies. In this role, I have the privilege of working on an Oral History Project funded by the County of Santa Clara, in partnership with the San Jose State University Research Foundation. This project highlights the lives and legacies of Santa Clara County Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) leaders and activists, to amplify and uplift their contributions as well as combat racism and anti-Asian violence. Through the narratives of those who have dedicated their lives to fighting for justice and civil rights, this project will not only archive oral histories but also aim to inspire and motivate future generations for a better America via the development of K-16 curriculum.

Working with folks highlighted in this Oral History project and community members, we hosted the first Day of Remembrance in SJSU history, in collaboration with the Nihonmachi Outreach Committee (NOC), CAPISE, APIFSA, and PRIDE. This event was filled with many intentional parts: a keynote dialogue featuring former Congressman Mike Honda and Shirley Kumamoto, film screening from NOC, and a panel of SJSU student activists Kayla Le, Jariah Jaug, Ariana Shah, and Dominic Treseler. Through this event, we saw this organic intergenerational dialogue that took place between our elders, community leaders, and current SJSU students who attended. Connecting with our community and participating in this intergenerational movement is one of the small steps our community must take in order to heal and move forward together, shoulder to shoulder.

Reflecting on my Years in Associated Students

Not going to lie, writing this blog got me in my feels. I can never imagine my time at San Jose State without Associated Students. During my time here I have met so many amazing people and mentors, including those I am honored to call my best friends. From joining Academic Affairs my sophomore year- to running for Director of Student Resource Affairs, then Vice President, and now I will be ending my term as President in six weeks. 

In my first year as a Director during COVID, I had the privilege and honor of working alongside past Directors Leland Pama and Cris Acosta with the Johnson Family to put together an online philanthropy music festival called Gregory’s Jam, to support and celebrate Gregory Johnson’s life. The three of us, despite combating many barriers institutionally and personally to be able to advocate and support the Johnson family, fought through injustice to have a moment of joy and community together with locals to celebrate Gregory’s life and honor Mrs. Denise Johnson. I learned from this experience the beauty of agency and resilience. We worked alongside community members and the Johnson family to engage with student organizations, local businesses, and the San Jose community to put together a creative space of activism. 

Later on in that term, we began conversations surrounding the creation of a safe space for APID/A students and communities on campus. I remember feeling angry, sad, and frustrated while processing the Anti-Asian hate happening throughout the world. Our rally #NOTUR34 was a movement we started as a community to advocate and turn our anger as a community into action. During our march, while yelling chants on campus about the violence happening in our community, I felt a warmth in my cheeks and moisture in my eyes as we shouted to the world together- that we are to be heard, to be seen, and to be represented!

After many years of advocacy of those before us and the writing of a resolution by Associated Students, we celebrated the hiring of the Director of CAPISE, Jinni Pradhan, during Lunar New Year while in my role as Vice President, and we recently reached our 1st birthday as a center!! Inspired by our family, our community, and our elders, we found our voice again to demand for change in our systems: to see and support our multifaceted and diverse APID/A community. 

In a couple weeks, on April 17th, I will be introducing a Sense of Senate Resolution calling to institutionalize Day of Remembrance at SJSU. This document, written by students, faculty, staff, and community members, condemns and documents the true history of our University’s involvement in Executive Order 9066, the lives and individuals who were impacted by this injustice. It also calls for SJSU to collaborate with the Japantown community to educate the campus community about Executive Order 9066, and the construction of a mural and monument at Yoshihiro Uchida Hall.

The biggest lesson I learned in Associated Students, SJSU was that advocacy starts with being curious. It can get overwhelming to think about how we will combat systemic issues in our institutions and society, how to decolonize the way we think, or just the overarching reality of the darknesses of the world. But I encourage you to ask small questions, to think critically about the systems you are part of. Because just a little curiosity leads to an opportunity to learn and find your voice. It also leads to questioning how systems are constructed or why things are the way they are. Curiosity leads to dialogue within communities to transform our systems to spaces of change.

This young, curious Asian American woman, who started out her journey with two immigrants coming to the United States pursuing the American dream, stands before you today as the third AAPI woman, first Chinese American woman, first Malaysian American, and first Taiwanese American student to serve as Student Body President at San Jose State, the oldest university in the West.

Asking the question, “why?” helps us move from conforming to transforming the very systems that were never designed for us in the beginning.Because if not me, then who? If not now, then when?”

Happy APID/A Heritage month. May we continue celebrate with one another our beautiful identities on campus and how far we have come as a community in love and hope. <3

“There is a popular saying, we stand on the shoulders of giants. But I like to think that we are standing shoulder to shoulder, making steps and working together across generations so that injustice does not get repeated for the next.” – Susan Hayase, San Jose Nikkei Resisters

Inclusion & Advocacy by Luis Aquino-Cristobal

Luis Aquino-Cristobal is the A.S. Director of Intercultural Affairs. In this Spartan Voice by A.S. Blog, Luis shares his story on Inclusion and Advocacy, two of eight Core Values in the Associated Students Strategic Plan. Read more about our organization’s values in the A.S. Strategic Plan here.

Inclusion and Advocacy
Silicon Valley is a supposed hub of liberalism. Many would argue that our area and state set the bar for democratic and liberal ideals because of its diverse population and culturally rich region. However, this is not true, especially as we witness our marginalized communities facing ostracism as “perpetual others.” 

Inclusion is an increasingly important value, it reminds us of the responsibilities we bear to ourselves and others, something increasingly lost in hyper-individualism and institutions like ours. 

As an Indigenous person (Ben’ Zaa/Zapotec, Indigenous to the Valles Centrales region of Oaxaca), this treatment is not a foreign experience or a distant memory but is a part of our past and present. 

Where We Are Situated
We live and learn on the stolen and unceded land of the Muwekma Ohlone, the original stewards of this land, predating Spanish, Mexican, and American colonization. Our institution acknowledges this to an extent. 

Land Acknowledgments were used by many Native communities before being adopted by Non-Native institutions to honor and recognize the land that settlers stand on. Although important, many non-native institutions usually stop at this step, believing that it is enough to acknowledge without taking action, listening to, and engaging with Native communities. Perhaps some believe that this is the only help they can give to Native communities, but this would be wrong. There is also growing frustration in many Native communities with the appropriation of the Land Acknowledgement by settler communities as there are no actual institutional changes in the ways they interact with Native communities on campus and around them. 

I am grateful to have an amazing group of people who are dedicated to ensuring that Native/Indigenous students have a place on campus. Staff, faculty, and countless students have been advocating for a space where we can create community, find resources, and be supported throughout our academic journeys at SJSU. 

This is not a radical ask, in fact, we are very fortunate to have different centers in our campus dedicated to aiding marginalized students. It has been through groups like the Native American Student Organization (NASO) and the Gathering of Academic Indigenous and Native Americans (GAIN) and their collaborations with other multicultural centers across campus and the Solidarity Network that we have been able to host community events and foster a sense of community in an institution that ignores us. 

It has been my personal experience that there is little to no support from others outside of our collaborators. SJSU has fostered hostile environments for many students in our community. Anti-indigenous sentiment runs rampant across many disciplines, the treatment of our cultures as a thing of the past, and the depreciation of our cultural knowledge, paired with micro-aggressions and harassment, from other staff, faculty, and students. 

A prominent example of this occurring on our campus took place in the Anthropology department, where a professor desecrated native remains. There was a lot of backlash. This example has highlighted various issues, namely the overt display of Anti-NAGPRA sentiment from various staff and faculty across campus. 

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) enforces the repatriation of Native remains and artifacts to their respective nations. Many professors stood in opposition to the decision to bar a professor from SJSU’s collection of Native remains. The fact that this happened on an “Inclusive” campus is astonishing. However, it is not surprising that this happened because our voices are not being heard across campus and are often overlooked. Moreover, it enables discriminatory behavior to continue in this field and perpetuates hostility towards Native/Indigenous students on campus. Although the department acted swiftly, it should have never happened in the first place. This points to a severe disconnect between our academic departments, ethics, and consideration for Native communities. In this case, it is crucial that Native communities have a say in how the remains of their ancestors’ are looked after as they await repatriation. These protocols are important because it recognizes the autonomy of these nations and individuals, and also serve as a reminder of the wrongs Institutions have incited onto these communities by possessing the remains.

This brings me to my final point: the institution’s entitlement to knowledge. We as an institution are not entitled to the remains and cultural artifacts of Native communities. More often, Native communities are treated as a commodity to “American” history and discovery, we are seen as by-products or as contributions to the discoveries of white folks. This sentiment is evident on our campus and discourages potential Native students from attending our institution, and discourages many Native students attending our university to report incidents of discrimination because of this sense of entitlement.

Why does it matter?
SJSU is proud of its Minority Serving Institution status, as it should be. This title means that our student body brings a variety of different epistemological perspectives in a way that is not commonly seen on other campuses across the nation. It means we have the possibility of establishing cross-cultural collaboration in a way that a few are lucky to do. However, oftentimes, the flouting of this title supersedes the action that needs to be taken to support our minority communities on campus. 

In 2021, SJSU President Papazian announced the establishment of a Native American Indigenous Student Success Center (NAISSC) on campus. Since the time of this announcement, a physical space has not been identified on our campus. While the university gears for major changes (Transformation 2030), no mention is made of a permanent space for our multicultural center on campus. Moreover, no mention is made about how and to what extent the Muwekma Ohlone is a part of this conversation. Again, I reiterate, we are living and studying on unceded and stolen land, it is vital to ensure that the Muwekma Ohlone are our key partners since there is no plan on behalf of the institution to grant this land back or, in the very least, open the resources readily to members of the community. This could look like waived tuition for Native Students in the CSU, specifically those on whose ethnohistoric lands our institutions stand on. I echo a previous statement, this is not a radical ask! Effective Fall 2022, the UC system has implemented waived tuition fees for Native students.

Final Thoughts
Recent strides for the inclusion of Native/Indigenous peoples present in our community have only been recently made on our Institution’s side. These small steps should not dissuade any other motions of support. I call on the university to take action in supporting Native students on campus by:

  • Listening to the voices of our Native/Indigenous students; 
  • Engaging actively with the Muwekma Ohlone and other key community partners like the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara (IHC); and,
  • Opening a physical NAISSC space.

To accurately comprehend the experiences of our students, I encourage you to actively engage with the Muwkema Ohlone, our campus community (NASO and GAIN), and other key community partners like the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara. In doing so, I ask that you listen attentively and intentionally to our needs and not dictate them to or for us. With this insight in hand, it is important to engage our communities in the execution of these actions to ensure that it is the vision we seek to establish. Moreover, I call on you to take immediate action in supporting Native and Indigenous students on our campus by advocating for and establishing a physical space, approved by NASO and GAIN. It is only through engaging with our community that anyone will be able to understand the advocacy that countless before us have made. 

This is not my will but has been a call resounding on our campus for years. Our institute has failed in providing proper care to our Native/Indigenous students. It can begin to mend our fractured relationship by giving us a space to gather and create community. Community and a sense of belonging are vital to the retention of our students. We can only do so much without institutional support. 

These are just a few recommendations and do not encompass many others identified in a focus group study led by GAIN members on the necessities identified by Native and Indigenous Students on campus. I encourage you to reach out and inquire further about their findings. 

I would like to end this blog by thanking the staff and faculty in GAIN, who have advocated tirelessly for a space and representation for Native/Indigenous students across the field, specifically Director Aquino and Dr. de Bourbon who have worked and provided support for Native/Indigenous students and have been creating a community for us. Thank you for your advocacy and your unwavering support for our community. I admire both of these amazing individuals very much. I would like to thank NASO for their support, for creating community, and for helping us find a sense of belonging on campus. I would also like to thank our collaborators who have given us their spaces and have aided us in putting programming together. I would also like to thank the Solidarity Network for their support and the advocacy they engage in on behalf of the students they represent and the campus community.

Openness by Safiullah Saif

Safiullah Saif is the A.S. Director of Academic Affairs. In this Spartan Voice by A.S. Blog, Safi shares his story on Openness, one of eight Core Values in the Associated Students Strategic Plan. Read more about our organization’s values in the A.S. Strategic Plan here.

Openness is a term that is often associated with a person’s ability to interact with others. While openness has a lot to do with human interaction, it does not always mean the same. Openness can be defined as a person’s ability to express their emotions to, first and foremost, their own selves, and then to the people around them for their own benefit. Additionally, it helps one to maintain a healthy relationship with the surrounding community.

Is openness necessary to practice?
People generally tend to be into themselves often. And therefore, they associate this loneliness with not possessing the quality of “openness.” But, the basic concept of openness is to be fully aware of your own self and express yourself to others whenever appropriate.

The Importance of Leadership
Leadership has a great connection with being open to people. Here, openness has greatly to do with being an effective leader and being able to serve others for society’s good. A good leader has to be a person who is completely transparent with others. They have to show good speaking skills, be clear in their thoughts, and be certain of their goals. To achieve this level of mindset, one has to be open to themselves first before being open to others. 

Openness Within
The first step to having to possess the qualities of openness is to be truthful and open to one’s self. This means that the person should not hold back their emotions or restrain themselves from ignoring their feelings. From the experiences I have had so far, I have observed that people generally tend to hide their feelings from themselves, which results in them becoming numb to their own emotions. It can be thought as if they do not feel anything, even though they should be feeling something due to a particular situation going on in their life. Thus, one should practice self-awareness more often, especially when it comes to one’s own emotions and feelings, as it helps one to reflect upon themselves, and take necessary actions to make themselves feel better. 

Openness within one enhances them to a level where they are capable of having new ideas, planning things more efficiently, and finding ways through which one can embrace an open-minded perspective. One becomes more curious and imaginative in their own thoughts, which helps them to come up with better solutions to existing problems that can be beneficial for their own self and to the community as a whole.

Communication Within a Community
The next step to being open is to connect with others around you, who you trust and believe. Staying connected and updated with the people around you gives you the ability to remain up to date with what is going on in the community. Connecting with others on a personal level is a crucial practice, as it can not only help you to share your feelings but at the same time, also allows you to have the much-needed human interaction that every person should have.

Interconnection of Inclusivity with Openness
Being open to the people around you plays a very important role in practicing inclusivity in our society. Firstly, maintaining communication with diverse people around one makes them feel that there is someone to listen to them, interact with them, and share their feelings with one another. Secondly, sharing one’s ideas and perspectives with different people strengthens relationships between those people, while learning positive characteristics of each other’s attributes. 

In conclusion, being open to self and others leads to better self-awareness, a healthy mindset, and the possession of an open mindset. Whether it involves self-realization, interaction with others, or leading others to a better path, openness is a crucial attribute that can help individuals live a more fulfilling and enjoyable life.

Self Awareness by Dhruv Varshney

Dhruv Varshney is the A.S. Director of Sustainability Affairs. In this Spartan Voice by A.S. Blog, Dhruv shares his story on Self Awareness, one of eight Core Values in the Associated Students Strategic Plan. Read more about our organization’s values in the A.S. Strategic Plan here.

It is easy to criticize and appreciate others, but an unbiased opinion of oneself is difficult. It is easy to adjust personalities, trying to “fit in” in this world. We speak to please. We act to be accepted. In turn, we change identities without control. Our values and relationships become incoherent. The declarative “I am” becomes vague. We lose ourselves. I too lose myself; Often, I feel the need to slow down and look within. The phrase “Know Thyself” is centuries old but is still one of the elusive meta-skills of our

My journey has been heavily shaped by experiences and people I have met so far. Throughout my life, I have been privileged to have met a diverse group of individuals. It is fascinating how people from distinct nationalities, ethnicities, and backgrounds hold such unique and amazing personalities, and use them to interact with the world.

The way an individual interacts with themselves and the world around them significantly impacts their life and destination. One can alter the direction of their life by changing their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. There is nothing wrong about altering your personality. Change and progress are a part of life. However, to achieve that, one must be self-aware. One must have a superior understanding of themselves as a whole. We then are engaged to embrace changes and expand on our territories of solidarity as we recognize our areas of improvement.

Self-awareness is being aware of your strengths while recognizing areas of improvement. In the highly competitive culture we live in today, recognizing one’s limits and owning up to mistakes might seem irrational. In the fear of scrutiny and judgment, we work on the conviction that we should constantly be perfect. From my experience, I have learned that really the opposite is true. Whether one recognizes their shortcomings or not, the world still observes them. In the process of concealing them, individuals tend to highlight them, creating a crystal-clear view of lack of self-awareness and integrity. As a leader, this idea becomes an integral factor when I communicate with people who do not appear to comprehend their emotions. Often people tend to respond, unaware of how they feel and therefore react spontaneously. It is crucial to take time, self-awareness is not acquired overnight. Being aware of your limitations is essential to true agility. In the race between the tortoise and the rabbit, the tortoise understood his limitations and did not try to outrun the rabbit; He slowly but surely finished the race. Agile leaders recognize their positives and negatives. And they use this to make mindful decisions and delegate tasks in areas where they are not as skilled.

Self-awareness is the basic building block for professional and leadership development, which needs to be nurtured and cultivated over time. Life is a journey that introduces us all to amazing experiences and people. Take time to enjoy, reflect, and learn from them; you will not be disappointed.