Guest Viewpoint

(Maisie Plew/Emerald)

Editor's note: This piece reflects the views of the authors and not those of Emerald Media Group. It has been edited by the Emerald for grammar and style. Send your columns or submissions about our content or campus issues to letters@dailyemerald.com.

Dear University of Oregon,

We are APASU, UO’s Asian and Pacific American Student Union. As the umbrella group for Asian American and Pacific Islander student unions, we are compelled to speak up on the university’s actions regarding the rising anti-Asian hate and violence occurring in our nation. 

How can we put such complex emotions into a letter that is supposed to address how we’re feeling regarding the murder and violence against our community? For many of us, we’re becoming desensitized to spectacular violence and news that should provoke shock and horror. We know we should feel sad, angry, hurt and scared, as this violence impacts those within our own community, but it’s becoming difficult to feel these things as there seems to be little action taken to help us. 

This lack of change is leading many of us to feel hopeless. Many of us find ourselves doom-scrolling for hours on end trying to find any information that might help our members of the Asian American community that are in need. Many of our parents and other relatives immigrated to the U.S. with the hopes of being able to work hard to earn a stable life, a safe life. 

Those same family members are now the ones warning us, the children they raised here, to be careful going out. But in reality, we have to remind them to be cautious as they roam in public, in fear that they could be the next victims of a hate crime. We reach out to our external communities and ask for them to treat us with equal respect and compassion, but why are we expected to justify our need for equality? We’ve offered our lives and culture to America, but that’s still not enough for society to believe we deserve basic human rights. 

While we want to thank UO for speaking up about the anti-Asian rhetoric within the U.S., we can’t help but question why it took so long for the university to even address hate crimes toward AAPI communities. APASU made a response to the rising number of hate crimes in February, which demanded that the university condemn these rising acts of violence and asked for better student support. Nonetheless, President Schill waited until a gunman in Atlanta killed eight people in an anti-Asian attack before he made a statement. What about the nearly 4,000 cases of hate crimes since March 2020 that the university chose to ignore? The university’s response seems to indicate that the Atlanta shootings were the beginning of anti-Asian violence, but it was not. This event was a product of years of discrimination and xenophobia. 

Further, why were all the resources the statement suggested, on-campus resources that already existed? Looking at the list of those that were given, there are none that seemed to provide adequate help to students of color. Additionally, of the resources named in the statement, none are dedicated solely to preventing racist hate crimes. The university has recommended the same resources in separate “solidarity statements” such as for sexual assault awareness, even though the two issues are completely different and require different resources. True solidarity would be to establish something such as a hotline that is specific to racist hate crimes/harassment. 

Among all of the resources provided by the university, why is the Eugene Police Department highlighted as a primary resource to the students? After the Atlanta mass shooting in March, the police insensitively downplayed the deaths and labeled it as a “bad day” for the killer rather than a racist hate crime. Police clearly have inadequate training and lack the education to properly evaluate high-risk situations such as these. Seeing the university recommend police as a resource is very disheartening and, to put it frankly, tone deaf. Instead of providing the PD and other resources that barely scratch the surface of the issues revolving around AAPI hate, we implore the university to take further action; stop boasting that the student body is becoming more diverse each year, then making a last minute effort to support oppressed communities. As stated in APASU’s statement from February, we want to see more student engagement, more resources open to all People of Color and more accountability. 

Fortunately, our AAPI student unions are able to lean on each other and raise each other up in our time of need. That is to be expected. We also expect the university to show legitimate solidarity. At this point, the university sounds like a broken record with their affirmations of racial justice and condemnation of discrimination of any form. We have been through several cultural movements, and we still don’t truly feel supported by our own school that promised to stand by us. There is an undeniable facade that the university puts up whenever it praises its incoming classes that seem to grow in diversity. It uses this to its advantage to advertise a welcoming environment to students of color who are looking to belong and find community. If you’re going to celebrate the university’s diversity, then the very least you can do is support POC. How are you supporting your students so they feel protected during this time? Instead of speaking about ‘enriching’ the student environment to better promote ‘diversity,’ show us some action. Donate your gross amount of funds to non-profit organizations meant to aid and serve communities of color. Find alternative ways of protecting the community that don’t involve the ineffective police. The POC community at UO is tired of being the statistic that you brag about and then conveniently forget about after new students commit. Being proactive over reactive makes an incredible difference, and the university’s lack of action speaks volumes.

 

Asian and Pacific American Student Union Executive Board, 2020-2021

Wally Dea                     Sarah Lee

Wendy Fan                    Tracy Huynh

Claudia Lee                   Travis Huynh

Kalissa Concepcion         Mikayla Johnson

Kate Frederiksen            Duy Nguyen