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Jeremy Lao and Emily Chin

Maureen Reynolds | Thursday, February 19, 2004

When Emily Chin entered Notre Dame, she was told that diversity was “an experiment.” “That was disheartening,” said Chin, the first female Asian student body vice president. “Because diversity should never be an experiment.” Experience, to Chin, is a much better word than experiment. An active member of the Asian American Association, she believes that diversity events organized by multicultural clubs offer good opportunities for further fostering of open-mindedness. The sophomore plans to use her position in student government to help promote these events, such as Asian Allure.”We have enough diversity events; we just need to enhance them,” Chin said. “Promoting other ethnic shows on campus will remind people to be open-minded – to not close the door to opportunities that you can gain by talking to other people.”People should just be well-rounded and experience as many things as they can,” she said. “If they can grab more experiences … they’re better off.”During her own two years at the University, Chin said shared experience has played a major role in her best interpersonal relationships and her overall positive encounter with the institution.”I’ve been surrounded by people who are open-minded and love to share with me their experiences and want to learn about me,” she said.”Chin said her time on campus has helped her decide that other facets of the University should be promoted to draw students from all types of backgrounds and to make student s more open-minded to the experiences of others.”I hope we will promote other aspects of the school so we can attract other types of students,” she said.As the second-highest student government official, Chin has had a chance to voice these views. Appointed to the position in January, she works closely with student body president Jeremy Lao, who took his own spot in the University’s history when he became the first Asian to hold that office.And Lao, too, stressed the importance of open-mindedness and firsthand experience. He, however, placed greater emphasis on the need for improvements in these areas. “The great friends I’ve had … have just been excellent guys, and I think we’re friends because we like each other as people,” he said. “The fact that we want to get to know each other on that level has made my experience a good one.”I think at the same time, my experiences could have been better if there was more open-mindedness,” Lao said. “I guess there are some nuances that are unique to me and aren’t caught by other students.”But an enormously positive stride toward a broader mindset came, Lao said, when two minority students – he and Chin – stepped into the most well-known student positions on campus.”It’s almost like saying that we made a big step forward when we elected the first female [student body] president,” Lao said. “It’s similar to that. It is a step that shows the students are willing to be open-minded.”And Lao said he will try to implement that increased tolerance, understanding and firsthand knowledge by using the power of the student union, echoing Chin’s enthusiasm for events and shared, multicultural participation.”Student government will have to help clubs champion their events or activities,” Lao said.Both the president and vice president have numerous ideas about their hopes for the future of diversity at the University. Both want minorities to have a greater presence on campus and become more involved, and, once again, Lao reaffirmed the importance of shared experience between people of all races, backgrounds and religions.”I want whoever comes in … to maintain their identity – whoever they are – and to share,” Lao said.