Fullerton College APIDA Student Forum gives students a voice

Members of the Fullerton College APIDA support team talked about plans for next semester to support their community on campus.
According to the Dean of Enrollment and member of FCs APIDA support team, Albert Abutin, a new APIDA Center set to open in the 100 building during spring semester, 2024.
According to the Dean of Enrollment and member of FC’s APIDA support team, Albert Abutin, a new APIDA Center set to open in the 100 building during spring semester, 2024.
Pedro Saravia

Fullerton College is set to build a new APIDA Center for Asian American and Pacific Islander students on the second floor of the 100 building. With many APIDA events planned for spring 2024, the inauguration of the center is set to be held next semester, according to Dean of Enrollment, Albert Abutin.

This new center is set to be a place where students in the APIDA community can go and get assistance with counseling, access to computers and meet other students. He also said that the plan is to have a director on site, managing the support of APIDA students at FC in multiple facets.

The Foundation for California Community Colleges sent $120,000 to Fullerton College for Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander achievement. Abutin said this money will be used for events, the introduction of focus groups and the creation of the APIDA Center itself.

“We are doing a Lunar Year celebration, Asian American kick-off month [and] we are also doing a movie screening,” said Abutin. “We are also going to be collaborating with our sister colleges, meaning Cypress and our NOCCCD.”

According to information collected by College Factual, 13% of Fullerton College students are Asian American. This makes the college an Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander Serving Institution, going over the minimum 10% of Asian American enrolled students, which is the criteria to be labeled as such.

Abutin said that APIDA students struggle the most with finding “a place of belonging” in Fullerton College. “I think one of the biggest pieces of addressing that was providing a space… that’s kind of the intent of what that APIDA Center will be,” said Abutin.

The creation of the APIDA advisory support team in 2022 was the first step the college has taken in support of representation for APIDA students. FC has created a network of faculty members who identify in the APIDA group, so students can know who to be directed to in need of their specific needs.

“People who look like them, talk like them… People that they can see as role models, or that they can just go there [the APIDA Center] for support.” said Abutin. “Even if we, as individuals, do not know the answer to all the specific questions, we know who to direct them to.”

The support team has turned to meetings like the APIDA Forum, which happened on Tuesday, Nov. 14 in Building 2400, room 107, to gather information on what students specifically need. Students who gathered at this forum provided personal ideas on how they can better be supported.

Ethnic Studies professor and member of the APIDA support team Rosie Kar talks to students at the APIDA Forum on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023 (Pedro Saravia)

“Lots of times, we as administrators just happen to say, ‘Hey! Here is what they need.’ Getting the input of students is so crucial for them. Like they might say, ‘Oh well, we actually want this,’” said Abutin. “We have been working with our student trustee Chole Serrano and then our student body president, Isaac Choi.”

Another way Abutin said the support team can push for more APIDA representation is in the hiring of more APIDA individuals at the college. Whenever a position in any area is free, Abutin said they notify people from groups in that community that they believe can be a good option to hold the position.

“As we get divisions open, we post them on different websites… we send them to different people that are connections through the state,” said Abutin.

Abutin said that he hopes APIDA students can find themselves a second home in the new APIDA Center once it is opened.

“Students can go to a place where they feel welcome and supported,” said Abutin. “Almost like a home away from home.”

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