The following message was sent to Columbia College students on March 18, 2021.
Dear Columbia College students,
I write with a feeling of sadness, as many of us still try to absorb the tragedy of eight murders in Atlanta on Tuesday night, which included six women of Asian descent. As authorities investigate and communities mourn, this latest act of violence demands that we all recognize anti-Asian and anti-Asian American discrimination as the crisis that it is. While prejudice, violence and discrimination have long plagued Asian and Asian American members in our country, this last year has seen over 3,700 reports of anti-Asian racist incidents and hate rhetoric around the country and here in New York City. All of it is unacceptable.
In a time when society must unite to battle global challenges, not least of which is Covid-19, our daily work must be centered on unifying, embracing, understanding and empathizing. This basic premise still holds true: every individual we encounter has inherent value. In our humanity, each of us is related and connected to the next. As such, we must look for ways to speak out and act against patterns of violence. Our community’s power is to care and then to act; it is what makes Columbia College so special. Together, we must work to protect one another, today and everyday hereafter. I am hopeful that through our unified efforts, voices and action, we’ll be part of making a more inclusive and safer school, University and world.
To our Asian and Asian American students, I stand united with you, and I ask our entire community to do the same. I also challenge each of us to reflect on our own perceptions, actions and beliefs, in the spirit of believing we can each do better when it comes to being open towards others. In support of this work, Multicultural Affairs provides a variety of ongoing programs, including the Unconscious Bias and Anti-Racism workshop series. Tomorrow evening, Counseling and Psychological Services will host a support space for Asian students that I encourage students to attend. I also want to remind you where you can report any incidents of bias you witness or personally experience.