Asian Student Union receives $5,610 for conference

GVL / Kevin Sielaff    
Jeremy Turnbull speaks to the senators. The Student Senate convenes Sept. 3 inside the Kirkhoff Center at Grand Valleys Allendale campus.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff Jeremy Turnbull speaks to the senators. The Student Senate convenes Sept. 3 inside the Kirkhoff Center at Grand Valley’s Allendale campus.

Meghan McBrady

To expand on the forum of intercultural learning, Grand Valley State University’s Asian Student Union (ASU) met with GVSU’s student senate Thursday, Oct. 20 for a budget request hearing.

ASU requested $16,000 for its “Realizing and addressing Issues in our Culture and Education” (RICE) conference in the winter semester.

Kathy Bui, the co-event coordinator for the ASU, said the organization’s funding request stems from covering the costs of several keynote speakers and food at the event.

“The purpose of RICE is to spread knowledge and raise awareness of current issues on Asians and Asian-American communities,” she said.

Emphasizing the Asian values and traditions ASU tries to uphold, Bui said the group’s goal is trying to become an active voice on campus and inspire leadership among other Asian-American students.

Kaitlin Chauv, the co-event coordinator for ASU, emphasized how the theme for the RICE conference focuses on overcoming racial injustice.

“Our topics that we will address at the conference are going to relate to race and our socio-economic statuses,” she said. “We are also trying to do something new by including the LGBTQ community into our conference as well.”

Stressing how the topics relate to current issues in society, Chauv said ASU decided to have two keynote speakers at the conference so they could fill the entire Loosemore Auditorium for the conference.

One of the speakers, David So, a comedian and speaker, has been invited to the conference in order to share current issues within the Asian-American community in a comedic format and connect with a younger audience.

The other speaker, Fong Tran, uses poetry to convey his experience of being a nontraditional student of color and his relentless support for millennials to seek and access higher education.

“He caught our attention through the video “I Hate Being Vietnamese” and it was expressing how in his community he was a minority and how he felt about it and how he was uncomfortable with his skin color,” Bui said.

“I thought that this would be good for our conference because we are talking about being comfortable in our own skins and that is why we thought he would be a good advocate for the conference.”

ASU’s presentation relayed how the allotted money would be budgeted. Of the $16,000 requested, $10,000 would be going to So. The student senators later deliberated over how much money should be allotted for speakers and food.

Primarily, the discussion focused on if it was necessary to spend $10,000 on one speaker and $4,000 be spent on food alone.

“We need to take in consideration not only the cost itself, but the other cultural organizations,” said Jeremy Turnbull, vice president for senate resources. “Yes, the impact is very important, but we can’t pry money from other organizations by spending $16,000 on one event.”

Malayna Hasmanis, vice president for educational affairs, said while a large amount of the cultural fund has been spent already, she said as this is the 17th year the conference has been hosted, it should continue to spread its goal of addressing issues in culture and education.

“It is quality over quantity for this event,” she said. “It’s really addressing a period of topics that may be spoken about and (ASU) spent all year continuously going forward and I’m really excited to see what will happen.”

Ella Fritzemeier, GVSU’s student senate president, said how the final budgetary amount will be broken up.

“The final decision was to vote for $4,000 to a speaker or performer so they could use that for whatever speaker they want,” she said. “Then there is $1,500 for food and still the same marketing they had before, with the total then being $5,610.”

For more information about GVSU’s student senate, visit