Wednesday, October 19, 2016

UIAAAN Newsletter September 2016

UIAAAN Newsletter—Fall edition September 2016

Featured Club
University of Illinois Alumni Association Taiwan

Featured Alumni
Chitra Ramanathan
Tryptich- "Joyful Musings" (L), "Celebration" (C) "Melodious waves" (R). 60" H X 108" W. Mixed media on canvases. © Chitra Ramanathan 2016. No Reproductions. All Rights Reserved. 

Featured Student Club
Asian American Association at Urbana-Champaign
UIAAAN Announcement
U of I Asian and Asian American News and Updates
U of I News and Updates
U of I Alumni Association News
Asian and Asian American News
UIAAAN Newsletter Contributors:
Alphabetically Ordered: Chong-Hwey Fee (Blog Guest Writer), Huan Wu (Communication Intern), Jennifer Hayek (Informational Analysis), Lesley Lee (Editor)
Did you know UIAAAN has a Facebook Group!?
If you are on Facebook, please join us and share your thoughts, events and news on our and UIAAAN Group page. Feel free to post and share anything you would like.
We encourage and nurture meaningful relationships to create a supportive community of Asian and Asian American alumni and students by providing comprehensive programming and opportunities that illustrate University of Illinois pride.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My School, Party School

My School, Party School
By Chong-Hwey Fee

Last August, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign made headlines by being named the #1 party school in the country by The Princeton Review [1].


In 2016, UIUC is #3 on the list, and we have been in the top 5 for four years in a row. Yay again!

Why the long faces? Is it bad news? Why is it bad? How bad is it?

First and foremost, why would anybody confuse social life with quality of education anyway? But hang on, let’s indulge in this confusion just a little bit, because you won’t get to the bottom of the story if you don’t read it from beginning to end.

Then-Chancellor Phyllis Wise protested last year’s ranking: “... Our student body is comprised of the brightest, most hard-working students anywhere… It’s disappointing that, once again, Princeton Review is promoting this pseudo ranking as though it were meaningful. It’s insulting to all of our students, since they are here to prepare to become leaders of their generation.” [2]

How solemn and dignified! Obviously, Dr. Wise was offended by the ranking, as were some UIUC folks and alumni. I am not a big fan of the ranking myself, yet neither am I impressed by her reaction, which implies that students having a fun or balanced college life would somehow be an insult to the University.

Since I love my alma mater so much, I will not allow anybody to insult her. But before any review can be taken as an insult, we ought to find out the criteria for being labeled as a “party school.” A scholar’s gotta do what a scholar’s gotta do. First, let’s examine the matter scholarly and logically. What is the definition of “party school?” How are “party schools” ranked?

Definition and ranking criteria

The Princeton Review itself does not offer a clear and concise definition of “party school”. The ranking list covers nine general areas: Academics/Administration, Quality of Life, Politics, Campus Life, Town Life, Social Life, Extracurriculars, Social Scene and Schools by Type [3]. The “Type” of school gives us a glimpse into this notorious term “party school”. There are two types: Party Schools and Stone-Cold Sober Schools. It’s either black or white, no shades in between. Both lists are based on students' answers to survey questions concerning: the use of alcohol and drugs at their school, the number of hours they study each day outside of class time, and the popularity of fraternities/sororities at their school. Schools on the "Party Schools" list are those at which surveyed students' answers indicated a combination of low personal daily study hours (outside of class), high usage of alcohol and drugs on campus, and high prevalence of fraternities/sororities. Schools on the "Stone-Cold Sober Schools" list are just about the opposite.

Methodology of ranking

The Princeton Review claims, “Our 62 annual college rankings lists are entirely based on what students attending the schools in our Best Colleges book tell us about their colleges and their experiences at them via our student survey for this project… No ranking list reflects The Princeton Review's opinion of (or rating of) the colleges. A college's appearance on a ranking list in the book is entirely the result of what its own students surveyed by The Princeton Review reported about their campus experiences as well as how they rated various aspects of their college life.” [4]

Instead of censuring the Review, we probably should have questioned our own students who participated in the survey: What motivated them to participate in the survey? Why on earth did they party so hard? It was they who visited bars and engaged in drinking, after all. It definitely wasn’t the Public Relations or any spokesperson from the U of I who volunteered the information. I did some research but did not find sufficient info revealing how the subjects for the surveys were selected or screened. I have been conducting my own “survey” by asking students (a couple hundred) at social events since last year. I haven’t met a single person who participated in the survey or frantically drank at bars. The only occasion involving heavy drinking that people could think of was Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day. Regardless, I humbly suggest that our authorities do some research before responding to reviews. As to “personal daily study hours,” does a fixed amount of time qualify students as “hard-working?” Isn’t it generally true that the more brilliant a student is, the less time s/he spends studying? Furthermore, the popularity of Greek life accounts for one-third of the ranking by type. Before we beat ourselves up, we have to admit that having the largest Greek system in the country and their dynamic and energetic nature make college life enjoyable. College life would be dead boring if this part were missing, don’t you think? (The survey about the use of drugs boggles my mind. I wonder if the Review meant to challenge law enforcement to “catch ‘em if you can!”)

Also, is there any correlation between academic achievement and social engagement or networking? Some academically esteemed schools, such as UW-Madison, Penn State, and UT-Austin, have made the top party school list since 1983. Do people think less of them? I doubt it. What attracts the cream of the crop to top-notch schools? Yes, I am asking you! You are the cream of the crop, drawn to this top-notch school! You ought to be able to answer why you chose the University, despite the so-called “party school” title. It’s a well-known fact that the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois has been historically ranked in the top three in the nation. There are several other programs ranked in the top three in the nation for decades as well. Students have come from all over the U.S. and across the globe to get education here - is this a result of the applicants or their parents being concerned that, as the “party school” ranking goes up, the quality of education declines? If any parents hesitate to send their children to UIUC because of their concerns that it is a “party school,” I cannot help but ask: Why don’t they have confidence in their children to be mature and wise enough to make good choices? Or do the parents have any confidence in themselves that they have done a good job raising good kids?

I once read an article about a renowned director and his favorite leading actress having a romantic affair. I admired his apathy towards rumors and scandals. He believed that, to be successful in show business, you need 70 percent talent and hard work, and 30 percent good publicity. Academia and show business may not have much in common, but one attribute of rumors or scandals is almost universal: If you were no good, nobody would bother to make up rumors or sandals about you. The best way to deal with unwanted comments is really just to ignore them. I truly believe that no one can insult you unless you choose to feel insulted. It’s a dog’s nature to bark at passers-by. Don’t bark back! We cannot change the world, but we can certainly change our own attitude and reaction.

I remember this Chinese saying about college when I was growing up. It made us kids believe that college was four years’ worth of fun. It very loosely transliterates the English word “university” as  由你-玩-四年, meaning “as you please” (uni), “have fun” (wan), “four years” (si nian). My happiest time in life was indeed my college years. When my children went off to college, I blessed them with one piece of advice: Be safe, have fun, and work hard, in that particular order! I also pointed out that good judgment and making good choices were the bases for having fun. I wanted them to explore, experiment, and experience college as sensible and responsible grownups. Reflecting on The Princeton Review’s ranking, we did learn something valuable. As Wise said, “It gives us a chance to talk with our students and their parents about celebrating and relaxing safely.” After all, if anybody would condemn having fun in college, I feel online degrees would do them just fine.

That said, let’s party!

  1. Samuels, Alexandra. “Illinois Named Top Party School in the U.S.” USA TODAY College, August 3, 2015, Accessed 9/25/16
  2. Citation for Princeton Review party school criteria? Accessed 9/27/16
  3. Longgo, Joseph. "A Year on Top: UI sobers up"

UIAAAN Newsletter - Summer edition June 30, 2016

UIAAAN Newsletter - Summer edition
June 30, 2016

2016 UIAAAN Schoarship Recipients

Matthew Jason Hom & Emily Rohman

 UIAAAN President Ning Zulauf is flanked by the 2016 scholarship recipients Matthew Jason Hom and Emily Rohman



UIAAAN was proud to provide two $500 scholarships this year: to Matthew Jason Hom and Emily Rohman, both rising seniors. The scholarships were presented on Monday, April 26, 2016, at the 21st Annual Asian American Leadership Awards, held at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center on the UIUC campus in Urbana. Many thanks to our scholarship donors and support from the Asian American Culture Center. Matt currently is double majoring in Global Studies and Political Science. Emily is majoring in Community Health. See UIAAAN's interview with Matt to learn more about him.

Featured  Alumna: Reena Bajowala

Reena Bajowala, who obtained her Bachelor of Arts in English & Pre-Law from UIUC in 2001, is a partner in Jenner & Block’s Complex Commercial Litigation Department in Chicagoland. She is a great example of someone who has followed her passion and lived out her motto to “persevere despite the roadblocks that come your way.” Her Asian heritage, family education and Illinois experience have inspired her and shaped who she is today. More


Featured  Student: Sakshi Srivastava

In this issue, meet Sakshi Srivastava, who obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from UIUC in 2015. She continues her passion in Electrical and Electronics Engineering as a graduate student (for a master's degree) and a research assistant at UIUC. Sakshi presented at TEDxUIUC: Uncharted this year to share her personal journey as an international student and how she overcame various challenges and kept a positive mindset. In addition, she understands the underrepresentation of women in science and has initiated the bringing of a female engineer statue to the UIUC Engineering Quad. More


Photo and video by: TEDxUIUC 

UIAAAN News :New Board Members, Announcement, Mentoring

  • We are grateful to annouce Miss Katie Jin has newly joined the UIAAAN Board to contribute to UIAAAN's human recource management.
  • Call To Action from UI President Timothy Killeen The Illinois budget crisis has huge impacts from various perspectives. President Killeen encourages alumni to share their concerns with their local legislators to approve the state budget for fiscal 2016-2017 for public universities.
  • You can support UIAAAN and UIAAAN scholarships with up to $50 by just simply applying for the Illini Card and mentioning UIAAAN as the promotion code! This program (see details at right) is provided by the Alumni Association and the U. of I. Community Credit Union (formerly the U. of I. Employees Credit Union) to support alumni clubs and groups. We thank you in advance.
  • UIAAAN is going abroad! This year we are collaborating with the alumni leaders in China and Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) for the first time ever, to have a student and alumni Meet-and -Greet gathering in China! See more details in programming below.
  • Calling all small business owners in the U.S. to share your business website with UIAAAN for us to promote you on Small Business Day on November 28th in our Fall 2016 newsletter!! Contact us or send your URL to:                                                              

  • UIAAAN is relaunching its mentoring program! Whether you see yourself as a mentor or mentee, we want UIAAAN to help you reach out and receive or give help as needed. Contact Julian Ignacio at to get started or for more information.





Club Highlights: Illinois Alumni Club of Beijing

Chinese Language and International Development Society

  • In this June 2016 newsletter, we are pleased to introduce you to the Illinois Alumni Club of Beijing (IACB), as described by its president, Marco Reyes (LAS ‘09), who works in Camp Education and volunteers with the club because he loves Illinois.  He says friends were his favorite part of U. of I., and he was part of Omega Delta Fraternity, AIESEC, Kolusis, and International Illini Club.  Read more
  • Chinese Language and International Development Society (CLAID) is a newly established Registered Student Organization in 2015. The organization's goal is to build an intercultural environment for Chinese and domestic students to learn from each other. Read more


Illini in the News

Upcoming Events- Mark Your Calendar!

Saturday, July 9, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Chicago, IL - 2016 Brunch Series, July 

Saturday, July 9, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Shenzhen, China - 2016 UIAAAN Summer Alumni and Student Meet & Greet with alumni in Shenzhen

Saturday, August 6, Time: TBA. Shanghai, China - 2016 UIAAAN Summer Alumni and Student Meet & Greet with with Illinois Alumni Club of Shanghai


Guangzhou Meet and Greet

Thursday, June 30, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Guanzhou, China - 2016 UIAAAN Summer Alumni and Student Meet & Greet with Illinois Alumni Club of Guanzhou  


 Image: Beijing Meet and Greet by Illinois Alumni Club of Beijing (IACB)

Beijing Meet and Greet
Saturday, June 25, Noon- 2 p.m. Beijing, China 2016 UIAAAN Summer Alumni and Student Meet & Greet with Illinois Alumni Club of Beijing
Special thanks to Illinois Alumni Club of Beijing (IACB) president Marco Reyes (LAS ‘09) for collaborating with UIAAAN. About 20 alumni and students joined the event. According to Marco, the gathering was “small [and] intimate” and people had a great time.

Dragon Boat Race
Saturday, June 25th 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ping Tom Park, Chicago
The UIC Pyro Paddlers are back for their seventh year competing at the Chicago Dragon Boat Race for Literacy. The Pyro Paddlers are UIC students, staff, faculty and alumni who raced on Saturday, June 25th in Chinatown’s Ping Tom Park on the south branch of the Chicago River. Elvin Chan,  Assistant Director at the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center at UIC hopes UIUC alumni can team up next year to join the race! More

Career Workshop
Thursday, May 26, 2-4 p.m. Champaign, IL OPT Job Search Workshop
Mr. Un Yeong Park at The Career Center at Illinois invited UIAAAN to co-host a workshop focusing on Optional Practical Training (OPT) for international students and alumni with F-1 visas. In addition to Mr. Harrison Ding, the founder and CEO of Multiple Listing Network Ltd. (MLN), Ms. Wen Zheng represented UIAAAN and drew upon her personal career development with students and young alumni.




Did you know UIAAAN has a Facebook Group!?
If you are on Facebook, please join us and share your thoughts, events and news on our and UIAAAN Group page. Feel free to post and share anything you would like.


We encourage and nurture meaningful relationships to create a supportive community of Asian and Asian American alumni and students by providing comprehensive programming and opportunities that illustrate University of Illinois pride.



© 2016 University of Illinois Asian American Alumni Network