When did you first get involved with PAGE?
I got involved my freshman spring. I was actually on the board of another club, which was a constituent of PAGE, and after going to the meetings I decided I wanted to run for board because I was really interested. I ended up being the Communications Chair for PAGE and was on board my freshman through sophomore spring. I went abroad junior fall, and ran for chair when I got back to Penn and now am wrapping up my term.
Did you have any personal experiences with gender equality at Penn that led you to get involved with PAGE?
I came into Penn knowing that I wanted to get involved with gender equity work and I think PAGE furthered that and made me grow a lot in terms of learning more about gender equity, women’s rights, and stuff like that. When I was 16 there was a gang rape that happened in Delhi, and a lot of people were talking about it and I wanted to know how I could get involved. It was the first time I saw my community [the South–Asian–American community] really talk about sexual violence very openly and I wanted to know how I could get involved and be part of those conversations. That was the first time I really got involved with gender equity. My friends and I held a candlelight vigil and a protest, and after that I wanted to continue that and that’s what made me apply to Penn as a Gender Studies major.
As the PAGE chair what are your duties?
A lot of it is overview I guess, making sure everything’s running smoothly with board, making sure our programming and initiatives are being followed out. It’s a lot of supporting board to do the programs we want to do, but also external things like working with administrators, advocating for these causes at a larger level and building relationships with other groups on campus. One thing that I really focused on that I’m really passionate about is intersectionality and bringing in conversations about racism and things like homophobia and transphobia into the space. I primarily did that in regard to race but I think PAGE shifted a lot to talk about gender equity in these contexts.
Does PAGE work with the Women’s Center?
We are actually based out of the Women’s Center. Each cultural center on campus has an integral organization they get involved with and PAGE corresponds with PWC.
What kind of things do you want to see PAGE do in the future?
I think definitely continuing on the path we already begun which is really incorporate women who are marginalized in multiple different ways. So talking about women of color, LGBTQ women, low–income women and bringing in more conversations and really working with other organizations on campus doing this work. I think that we have become more diversified in certain ways and I’d love to see that continue and try to be more inclusive of communities that are not traditionally represented in feminist spaces on campus.
What do you think overall are Penn’s biggest gender equality problems?
I think, maybe it’s not specific to Penn, but for me it's centering women that are not traditionally represented. So for me I think intersectionality is definitely a big issue not just in the context of race but other things: transphobia, homophobia etc. to be inclusive of those various communities. For me as a South–Asian woman, I have to think about both racism and gender based discrimination and intersectionality addresses both of these things. I would love to see feminist spaces on campus address these issues, too.
What are you most proud of from your experience at Penn?
I think I’m definitely proud of Spice Collective. I co–founded it with my friend and it was borne out of the need for both of us being Asian–American women feeling like we weren’t fully represented in either feminist spaces or in spaces like the Asian community on campus, so we felt like we needed to create a space for that. The group has bi–weekly sessions and talks about different aspects of Asian–American identity. When I was a facilitator, we would talk about anything from our parents, pressures we feel, and things like that. This was one of the spaces I felt fully represented on campus and to create this space for Penn women of the future is something that makes me very happy.
If you could change one thing about Penn what would it be?
I think being more inclusive. We talk about bringing in more students of color, queer students, etc. into the community. But we need to discuss not only bringing them in but giving them a platform and supporting them throughout their time here. If I could fix all of that, I would.
One thing you would never change about Penn?
I think the support systems we have here. I’m specifically referring to the support system at the Pan–Asian American Community House (PAACH). The staff there have been so incredible and helped me in founding Spice Collective and guided me through starting South–Asian Women Space. Having that family on campus, like a home away from home, has meant the world to me.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
I think one of my professors once told me following the inauguration and a couple hate crimes that happened, “Be brown, proud, and loud!” At first, I thought it was really funny. But honestly, in some ways I think it encompasses a lot of the things I try to do, like be proud of my roots and my identity and advocate for those communities in whatever way I can.
There’s two types of people at Penn…
Activists and non–activists.
What was your Common App essay about?
It was about my experience with sexual harassment.
What’s the last tab you closed on your computer?
I had the survey for my senior thesis up. I’m doing research on what South–Asian immigrants think about mental health issues, specifically first–generation and second–generation immigrants' opinions on depression.
What’s the best class you’ve taken at Penn?
South–Asians in the US—it changed my life.
Chem Lab, because it was back when I was a pre–med and I am no longer a pre–med. That class was horrible. I think I definitely set something on fire that was not supposed to be set on fire.
If you were a food, what would you be?
Nutella, because you can put it on anything and it tastes incredibly amazing.
Is there anything I forgot to ask you?
I think one thing I want to mention is thinking about Penn in the greater context of Philadelphia. That’s something I’ve been thinking more about as a senior in terms of how Penn is a gentrifying force in the neighborhood and, as a student leader, ways we can work with the community and community organizations to build a better relationship. I think it’s on us as students who are part of that gentrification to work on that.