Fitting in at CSU

Oct 142003
Authors: Ben Bleckley

Despite cultural differences, Korean American students say they

do not experience much discrimination or misunderstanding on


“It’s kind of obvious that you’re a minority on campus, just

because the breakup of the population,” said Humphrey Shin, a

senior computer information systems major and president of the

Korean American Students Association. “I don’t feel that there are

too many differences – just skin color, culture and heritage.”

Korean Americans make up 0.4 percent of the Fort Collins

population and contribute to the city’s 2.5 percent Asian American

population, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. Asian Americans make

up 2.6 percent of the student population at CSU.

James Schada, a junior electrical engineering major, said he has

not experienced any sort of discrimination.

“For the most part it’s pretty good here,” Schada said. “I

haven’t really had any problems.”

Ken Kim is more comfortable at CSU than he was at his high


“Actually, when I came here I felt a lot more comfortable

because I was in the Key Academic Community,” said the sophomore

open option business major. “It’s a real diverse atmosphere. It’s

made me feel a lot more comfortable.”

While Shin does not experience any personal injustice, he

notices some mild evidence of it in American culture.

“If there’s a racial comment made about Asian Americans it’s not

as strongly frowned upon as say it is to a larger minority

population,” Shin said. He said he notices these comments most

often in the media.

Sometimes Korean Americans are broadly categorized as Asian

Americans or mistaken for members of another nation in the same


“Most people can’t distinguish between the races,” Shin said.

“Someone may know some Japanese and come up to you and start

talking Japanese just because they automatically assume you’re

Japanese when you’re not.”

As for first-generation Korean Americans, their transition to

campus life should be relatively easy, said Joon Kim, an associate

professor in the sociology department.

“Most of them have very little difficulty with respect to the

food here or other aspects of the culture because Korea is already

very much Westernized,” said Kim, who is also the Asian/Pacific

American studies instructor for the Center for Applied Studies in

American Ethnicity. Kim identified language as the greatest barrier

first-generation students experience.

All the students interviewed felt that they have not been

subjected to discrimination or stereotypes, and they expect that

experience to continue.

“I may be a minority on the outside,” Shin said, “but I feel as

far as getting that internship, getting that job, whatever it is

kids come to college for, I believe I have a fair shot at





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