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The Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Student Center

Celebration. Community. Legacy.

The Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Student Center (APIDASC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is an extension of the Multicultural Student Center, housed within Student Affairs. The APIDASC welcomes all students and centers the voices, experiences, and dynamic lives of APIDA undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. The APIDA Student Center exists to facilitate an environment that provides academic, professional, and social opportunities that critically engage student identities, while also connecting communities to the larger Wisconsin Experience and fostering a sense of belonging. The APIDASC is one of three identity centers within the Multicultural Student Center, a Student Affairs department at UW-Madison.

In 2017, Riley Tsang (c/o ‘19) and Shannon Thao (c/o ‘18) began actively lobbying for an APIDA Student Center. A committee created and led by Tsang and Thao, researched centers at other Big Ten schools and developed a proposal to present in collaboration and in solidarity with the student activists working to establish the Latinx Cultural Center. They used the momentum of each other’s projects to build on their own individual efforts forming a student coalition. When thinking about these two spaces, the students active in launching the centers thought it important to note that these new centers be thought of as startup spaces, not finished products, as there are still many ideas for growth. The student activists who worked to establish the APIDA Student Center also served as the first student interns of the center and were titled community organizers. The Center now has a full-time staff program coordinator and an undergraduate programming intern. In response to past student activism against the hostile national and institutional climates for APIDA students, the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Student Center (APIDASC) originally opened its doors in the Fall of 2018 (start up space), with renovations being completed Summer of 2020, and a Grand WI-Opening in Fall 2020.

Given this institutional context, the necessity of concerted and institutionalized support for APIDA students at UW-Madison has been ever present. Currently, and as we’ve seen heightened in the recent year, the impact of the national climate regarding the surge of anti-Asian violence in the US, can amplify feelings of isolation, un-belonging and invisibility that some APIDA Badgers may feel on our campus. Fostering a sense of belonging, connection, and community is crucial to ensure APIDA students’ success. Thus, alongside continued student advocacy we created this fund to support initiatives that ensure the aforementioned can be accomplished by celebrating APIDA culture and experiences, and honoring the legacy of advocacy and action within APIDA communities at UW-Madison.

“The APIDA Student Center is this special community that allows me to learn about myself and feel proud of who am I and how far I have come in my journey as a Punjabi-Sikh American. It has been able to be a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know folks who share similar experiences with their identity and feel the similar desire of promoting unity and solidarity.” 
-Simran S., Junior, Biology Major 


Take Action – Make an Impact

Donations to this fund will go directly to support vital student programming and initiatives that uplift and affirm the voices, experiences, and dynamic lives of APIDA-identifying undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Through initiatives like APIDA New Student Orientation, APIDA Heritage Month programming, immersive experiential trips to cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C., health and wellness workshops, leadership experiences and opportunities to engage in social justice, together we can ensure that vital financial resources are allocated to provide community, connection, and belonging for APIDA students at UW-Madison.

In efforts to ensure longevity of the APIDASC and support for APIDA students, this fund will exist in perpetuity.

For information after this jumpstart ends contact: apidasc@studentlife.wisc.edu.

“The APIDA Student Center provides a sense of comfort and especially solidarity in the time we are currently in. I know that the people there are welcoming and eager to assist in any shape or form.”
-Emily R., First Year, Honors

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