Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
The group formerly known as Swarthmore Asian Organization has decided rename itself “Swarthmore Jasmine Organization” (SJO). The group took the lead from Sharples, which rebranded “Asian Bar” as “Jasmine Bar” this semester.
SJO Co-President Larry Li ‘18 hailed the renaming as necessary to combat stereotypes and microaggressions.
“No student should be reduced to simplistic terms such as ‘Asian’. ‘Asian Bar’ was offensive because it reduced foodstuff like lo mein, dumpling, and fried rice under the umbrella of ‘Asian’, when the term should encompass a much wider variety of cultures and cuisines. We feel that a vaguely Oriental, nondescript word such as ‘Jasmine’ is more inclusive and better captures our members in a much more holistic fashion,” Li said.
SJO now claims to represent all Jasmine-identifying students on campus. It has already submitted a petition to the Intercultural Center to rename Asian Heritage Month into “Jasmine Heritage Month.”
“We seek to serve as a safe space for Jasmine students. Far too long have we suffered from issues such as the bamboo ceiling, the ‘model minority’ myth, and general political apathy. Identifying ourselves as Jasmine will provide a clean slate,” Li said.
Next month, SJO is hosting a panel with HJPJ, the group representing those who are Jasmine students of mixed heritage, on who gets to be considered Jasmine.
“I feel disconnected from the wider Jasmine community for a number of reasons,” HJPJ founder Chris Tan ‘19 said. “I don’t speak a Jasmine language, as my household language is English. I also have differing facial features from people of Jasmine heritage on both sides.”