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Thursday, March 18, 2021

Supporting our Asian and Asian American faculty and staff

(Versions of this message were sent to CLA faculty, staff, and students on March 18, 2021.)

We find ourselves reeling from another horrific tragedy, as eight people were murdered during mass shootings in Atlanta on Tuesday. We mourn the loss of these lives and express our deepest sorrow for the families and loved ones of the victims. 

Six women of Asian descent were among the victims. The blunt and horrible occurrence of this latest act once again brings instances of violence against Asians and Asian Americans to the forefront of our national attention. Our Asian American community and many of our international staff, faculty, and students have endured the fear and pain of hateful responses to the COVID pandemic and other instances of bigotry and attacks against the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American communities since March 2020. The pain and fear these kinds of horrendous and violent incidents cause is a heavy load to bear for our Asian and Asian American community in CLA.

The actions and beliefs of xenophobia, stereotypes, and racism are repugnant. At this time I especially reach out to express support for CLA’s Asian and Asian American faculty and staff who have been alarmed by the reports of violence and attacks over the past year. We stand with you and support you. I also want you to know that Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Ascan Koerner and I reached out to students to express our support in a separate message. Each of us in higher education has a role to play in educating ourselves, each other, and our communities about the dangers and horrors of racism and bigotry and their individual and structural perpetuation. These pernicious evils tear away at our society, our economy, and our sense of well-being.

This morning, the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives will hold a hearing on discrimination and violence against Asian Americans. CLA’s Regents Professor of History and Asian American Studies Erika Lee will give testimony during the hearing. Testimony begins at 9:00 a.m. CT this morning. I urge you to watch or listen if you are able. Professor Lee’s world-class scholarship, and the related scholarship and creative work among many CLA faculty around these issues, reveals past injustice while providing paths forward toward a better tomorrow.

Although we cannot meet in person at this time, please know that there are resources available to help, including the Employee Assistance Program where you can speak to someone. If you have experienced discrimination or bias due to your national origin or race, I encourage you to contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action

As I’ve said throughout this past year: Be well, stay well, and please look out for yourselves and each other.