Midwest Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Students Union (MAASU)

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Midwest Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Students Union (MAASU)
TypeNon-profit, Non-partisan, Education, Higher Education, Independent intercollegiate student organization
Region served
Midwest, United States

The Midwest Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Students Union (MAASU) is a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit volunteer-based organization founded in 1989 that serves as a source of community, empowerment, unity, and legacy to Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) students in the United States Midwest region.[1]

MAASU works to recognize the needs of the APIDA community by assisting schools with the establishment of Asian American student organizations, promoting leadership among students, addressing educational needs and rights of the community, and developing a channel of communication among APIDA student organizations across the Midwest.

MAASU's primary outreach is to undergraduate college students located in the United States’ Midwest region. On average, around 30 colleges and universities are engaged with MAASU annually spanning the following states: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Wisconsin.[2]


MAASU strives to recognize the needs of the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) community by:

Promoting leadership among APIDA students through programs including, but not limited to, the Leadership Retreat, Spring Conference, and other various programming Assisting schools with the establishment of APIDA student organizations, an APIDA cultural center and an Asian American Studies program Supporting and encouraging all APIDA students to work toward social change by providing a forum for social consciousness Developing and maintaining a channel of communication for APIDA student organizations in the Midwest through emails, newsletters and networking Uniting and strengthening the APIDA community stance against all forms of oppression


After the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit, Michigan, many Asian Americans tried to make sense of the racially motivated hate crime. The killers were never held accountable for the murder after legal battles that took place into the late 1980s. The Vincent Chin case became one of the most highly publicized nationwide Asian American civil rights campaigns and it sparked community organizing and college student activism against racism and hostile campus climates.[3]

Around the same time, there was also an increase of Asian American students attending colleges and universities in the Midwest which allowed for more Asian American organizations being formed on college campuses.This led to establishing the Midwest Asian American Students Union (MAASU) in 1989 when students across the Midwest came together to create a space to examine what it meant to be Asian American.[4]

As MAASU Founder Charles Chang (1964–2018) stated, "We needed a way to share our experiences as Asian Americans in the Midwest. Coming together with others made us realize we were not alone and that we could feel proud of who we were."

First MAASU Founding Meeting in October 1989.

By 1990, more than 20 universities in the Midwest had formed Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) organizations. Some had been around for years, while others were still in their infancy. Undergraduate students felt a need for a union that would support the growth of their groups and organize Midwestern Asian American students for political activism.

The first MAASU leadership team was formed, and the inaugural MAASU Leadership Retreat occurred in October 1991 at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana.[5]

Over the years, MAASU has engaged thousands of students through working with Midwest colleges and universities to host Leadership Retreats (named changed to Leadership Summit in 2016), Spring Conferences, regional programs, APIDA Heritage Month celebrations, and advocacy campaigns. In 2016, the MAASU Alumni Association (MAA) was officially launched to bring together past MAASU conference attendees and to continue building and sustaining relationships between MAASU and its alumni.[6] In 2018, the organization was formally renamed Midwest Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Students Union to be more inclusive. The acronym ‘MAASU’ remains the same.


Every fall, MAASU hosts a Leadership Summit (LS), catered to 150-200 students, and every spring, MAASU hosts a Spring Conference (SC), accommodating over 700 attendees. Each conference brings to light the history, challenges, and initiatives that the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American community faces. These conferences are hosted at different schools every year, allowing for the students around the Midwest to travel, explore, and gain a further understanding of the resources that their peers have. In addition, each host school showcases the talent of its students and local community through cultural performances, workshops, and keynotes. Each conference closes with a banquet, and during the Spring Conference, three MAASU awards are presented: Midwestern Star Award, Charles Chang Leadership Award, and the Board of Advisors Award.


MAASUx is a regional event, coordinated in collaboration with a campus host organization, designed to create additional opportunities to engage the midwest APIDA student community. MAASUx is a free event designed to attract college students from surrounding campuses to participate in educational workshops and fun activities. Through the more intimate setting of MAASUx programs, students can engage in creating high-quality connections with their peers and have the opportunity to reflect on their intersecting identities and experiences. These events are normally attended by 50-100 students.

MAASUx was initially launched in 2010 as MAASU Mixers before changing its name in 2017. Additionally, each MAASUx event began having a programming theme in 2017.[7]

MAASUx Timeline
Academic Year Host Institution/Theme
2019–2020 University of Wisconsin - Madison, Bamboo Among the Oaks

University of Missouri, Crossroads and Columns

2018–2019 Butler University, Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling

Wichita State University, ReModel Minority

2017–2018 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, MAASUxUMN
2016–2017 Kalamazoo College

University of Minnesota - Duluth

2015–2016 University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign

University of Missouri

2014–2015 The Ohio State University

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

2013–2014 Northwestern University
2012–2013 University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign
2011–2012 University of Colorado Boulder
2010–2011 Washington University

Loyola University University of Missouri


  1. "Our Mission". Midwest Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Students Union. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  2. "2019-2020 Annual Report". Midwest Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Students Union. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  3. Zia, Helen (2000). Asian American dreams: The emergence of an American people. New York, NY.: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  4. Kodama, Corinne M.; Poon, OiYan A; Manzano, Lester J.; Sihite, Ester U. (2017). "Geographic Constructions of Race: The Midwest Asian American Students Union". Journal of College Student Development. 58 (6): 872–890. doi:10.1353/csd.2017.0069. Retrieved December 13, 2020. Unknown parameter |s2cid= ignored (help)
  5. "MAASU History". Midwest Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Students Union. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  6. "MAA". Midwest Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Students Union. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  7. "MAASUx". Midwest Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Students Union. Retrieved December 13, 2020.

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