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Bergen Student Named NAACP East Region Chair

3-14-14

By Christine Valdez
Web Production Assistant

Bergen Community College student and NAACP Region II Chair Ivan Wei. Photo Courtesy of Bergen Community College

For Ivan Wei, joining the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People allowed him to start a community of his own at Bergen Community College. Upon a recommendation from a member of an NAACP chapter, Wei decided to see what the organization had to offer. He found that the group aims to fight for equal rights and protect the needs of individuals.

It was then that Wei had the idea to start an NAACP chapter at Bergen Community College.

“So I took it upon myself as a young Latino Jewish male to open a chapter,” said Wei. “I want people to know more about what’s going on in society.”

When Wei got the idea to start an NAACP chapter, he wanted to build a small community within the school’s campus that he had not seen when he started attending. By forming the chapter, Wei said that it allowed him to form a tight-knit community and make an impact within the campus and throughout the state.

After the NAACP chapter began to grow, Wei became the chapter’s president. The Bergen chapter was able to host various events such as voter registration drives, a voter education panel which included guest Sen. Barbara Buono. The chapter also hosted a workshop to help young minorities, as well as the Break the Bread event in Newark to feed and eat with the homeless.

Wei has been the president of the Bergen chapter over the last two years and has helped recruit more than 70 members. Last year, he was elected as New Jersey’s NAACP youth and college chair.

Through all the efforts and growth that Wei and the Bergen Community College chapter were able to achieve, Wei was promoted to a new position within the NAACP.

During the NAACP national convention in Orlando this past summer, the organization held elections for some of its leadership positions nationwide. At the convention, Wei delivered a speech so that he could be nominated for a position.

Following his speech, Wei was nominated for the Region II chairman position, along with the incumbent chairperson who was from New York. By the end of the vote, Wei was selected as the new chair.

“Apparently they liked what I said and they voted me as the new chairperson,” said Wei.

Wei did not expect to get the chair position and was surprised to find out.

“I didn’t think that I was going to beat the incumbent,” Wei said. “I just threw my hat out in the ring because if people liked what I said, they’d choose me. If not, it’s OK.”

Now that he has been selected as the new Region II chair, Wei will overlook all the NAACP chapters on the East Coast, from Delaware to Maine. Even though it might be a new position, it will consist of the same duties as the state chairman, according to Wei, but on a bigger scale.

Wei has plans to tackle issues such as the Voting Rights Act, education equality and making violence a public health hazard. Within the state of New Jersey, Wei plans to activate all of the state’s 45 chapters.

Wei started the chapter at Bergen Community College, but he will be attending Ramapo College next year, where he hopes to start an additional NAACP chapter. As he transfers to a new school, Wei hopes that the Bergen chapter can continue its success.

“I just hope that they keep the chapter going for many years because there was a chapter a long time ago and it only lasted five years,” Wei said. “So I hope that the new kids that keep coming in, that they are as enthusiastic as the first group was, to keep it going.”