Anderson to join OPAL as advisor
By Sharla Grass, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Aeriel Anderson has been appointed as the pan-Asian and Asian-American advisor and assistant dean in the Office of Pluralism and Leadership after a search process that began in April, according to Office of Pluralism and Leadership Director Alysson Satterlund. Anderson will assume the position — vacated by Nora Yasumura in April — on August 13, Satterlund said.
Anderson will work with students individually to support them on cultural, social, academic and personal issues, Satterlund said.
Anderson will also help student organizations and the greater OPAL community to “bring broader opportunities for cultural competency, development, student leadership development and inclusivity and diversity opportunities to students,” according to Satterlund.
Anderson was selected by a search committee that included students, alumni and staff members, according to Jyotsna Ghosh ’12, a former Pan-Asian Council intern and member of the search committee.
The committee chose Anderson from a pool of candidates because of her experience and excellent communication skills, according to Satterlund and students on the committee interviewed by The Dartmouth.
Anderson graduated from the University of Maryland College Park in 2009 with a master’s degree in education, specializing in counseling and personnel services, and she researched leadership among female Asian-American college students while attending the school, according to Satterlund.
She then served as an advisor at Georgetown University’s Center for Multicultural Equity and Access, an organization similar to OPAL, according to Satterlund. In the past two years, she has worked abroad at colleges in Switzerland and Poland.
“I definitely think she is very passionate — every interaction she had on campus, everyone who met her was constantly impressed with her,” Ghosh said. “She has a lot of relevant experience, so I’m very excited to see what she is going to do in the role. She’s very different from our last advisor, and I think that’s a good thing.”
Anderson will be able to address some of the biggest issues facing Dartmouth’s Asian community, including the “model minority myth,” a belief that Asian students do not require the same support as other students, Satterlund said.
“The model minority myth is particularly detrimental to the pan-Asian/Asian-American community,” Satterlund said. “The community’s incredibly diverse, and sometimes that’s not always on the forefront of everyone’s mind. [Anderson’s] job will be to be responsive to this diverse community and also to educate the broader community about the ramifications of the model minority myth.”
Search committee member Taha Adib ’14 said he is confident that Anderson will be able to connect with students and strengthen the pan-Asian community. In her role as an advisor, Adib said that she will bring essential “cultural context” that is often lost in the advising process.
Although the Asian community at Dartmouth has many strengths, room for improvement remains, Ghosh said.
“One of the big issues we have is making sure that we have a voice on campus, since part of the stereotype of the Asian-American community — that in some cases is true — is that it can be not the most vocal community,” Ghosh said. “We have to have advocates, and that’s why I feel that it’s important that we found the right candidate for this position, because that person needs to act as an advocate for students in the pan-Asian community.”
Anderson should work on coordinating the goals of the many Asian community organizations on campus, Adib said.
“Revitalizing that sense of community is important — there are a lot of organizations under the PAC umbrella.” Adib said.
Ghosh said she hopes Anderson will bring innovative ideas to “push the community forward.” Specifically, Anderson should help students who have not yet realized their leadership potential, Ghosh said.
“There is support for students that are natural leaders, that have found their ability to take on their roles,” Ghosh said. “But students who need to develop and find their leadership potential, there’s not as many support systems for them. We need to cultivate leadership potential in students before they see it in themselves.”
Anderson’s first task will be to prepare to welcome the Class of 2016, Satterlund said.
“I just want her to bring her best talents and make those available to the Dartmouth community,” Satterlund said. “She’s fabulous and I just really want her to be able to be in a place where she feels that she can be herself and do the things that we want her to do.”
Yasumura announced her resignation in March and left the position in April to become a social worker for Dartmouth Health Connect.
Students who worked with Yasumura voiced concern at the time of her departure about the loss of another female minority advisor after the resignations of former advisor to black students Samantha Ivery, former Acting Dean of the College Sylvia Spears and former Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Students Colleen Larimore.
Candidates for the vacated position came to campus in early July for interviews with the College and meetings with students.
Anderson could not be reached for comment by press time.
Adib is a member of The Dartmouth Staff.