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Okada House and the Asian American Experience at Stanford

Stanford Historical Society and Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club

Event Details:

Thursday, September 8, 2022
4:30pm - 5:30pm PDT


United States


This event is open to:


Event Details:

Asian and Asian American students have been a part of Stanford history since the inaugural class in 1891. The Japanese Students Association and the Chinese Students Association were founded in the early 1900s as the first Asian and Asian American voluntary student organizations on campus. Despite this early history, racial tensions and marginalization were experienced by many of these students, resulting in the establishment of the Japanese Clubhouse (1916) and the Chinese Clubhouse (1919) as safe residences for students of Asian descent.

In the 1960s and 1970s, during the period of the Civil Rights Movement, Asian American students began to organize and advocate for their needs. The Asian American Student Alliance, which later became the Stanford Students Coordinating Committee and now the Asian American Students' Association, formed in 1969. That same year, inspired by Black Student Union protests following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Asian American students started a petition for Asian American Studies.

An Asian American theme dorm in Junipero (which moved to Madera and then was later renamed Okada House in 1979 after John Okada) was established in 1971 to create community and center the experiences of what was then still a very small and primarily first-generation Asian American student population. It also paved the way for other ethnic themed housing on campus, offering a place to explore and celebrate the diversity of Asian American peoples, cultures, and languages in a historical and contemporary context, while welcoming residents of all backgrounds and cultures. Other Asian student communities and programs followed, including the Teahouse, the Asian American New Student Orientation Committee, the Asian American Activities Center, and many more.

Join us as we look back at the beginnings of this important cultural center with some of its first residents, and learn how the formation of Okada House laid the foundation for residential education at Stanford to promote the concepts of inclusivity, diversity and equity.


Jacob Wang ’72, is a founding board member of the Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club (SAPAAC) and was one of the first student residents of Junipero/Okada House, as well as a founding member and co-chairperson of the Asian American Student Alliance (AASA) from 1969-72. He helped found Nihonmachi Little Friends, a Japanese bilingual multicultural child development program located in San Francisco’s Japantown. He was also the Executive Director and site manager for the SFUSD Child Development Program, primarily serving low income and immigrant families in San Francisco. 

Gloria Saito ’73, served as Training Director, Clinical Director and Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at UC Berkeley for 32 years until she retired in 2019. After earning her bachelors degree in sociology at Stanford, where she was one of the first Resident Assistants at Junipero/Okada House, she earned a masters in East Asian Studies at Harvard and a doctorate in Clinical/Community Psychology at Boston University. Serving AAPI and under-represented students has been a focus and passion throughout her career.

Lee Salisbury ’73, was a resident of Junipero/Okada House during its first two years (1971-72 and 1972-73) as an Asian American theme dorm. He later attended USC Law School and has been a practicing family law specialist for the past 45 years in Pasadena with Salisbury, Lee & Tsuda, LLP. His two children are Stanford alumni. His daughter Katie Gee Salisbury, ‘07, is active in SAPAAC and recently co-authored an op-ed in the Stanford Daily with Jacob Wang and others about the interconnections between Stanford and Asian American history.

Edwin Carlos ’20, was an Ethnic Theme Associate at Okada House from 2018-2020, organizing weekly workshops, presentations and discussions with residents, faculty and community organizations. He is now pursuing a school psychology PhD at UC Berkeley with a focus on Asian American ethnic-racial identity attitudes.

Ths program is co-sponsored by the Stanford Historical Society and the Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club.

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