Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
The senseless killings of eight people, including six Asian women in Georgia earlier this week, have once again shed light on the need for each of us to take a stand against racial hatred, xenophobia, and violence against women.
According to the “Stop the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Hate” organization, more than 2,800 incidents of anti-Asian racism and discrimination were documented across the nation between March and December 2020. Members of our campus community have reached out to me and others from my leadership team to express how this event has impacted them, and the fear they feel seeing the growing national tide of anti-Asian sentiment and xenophobia.
Like the shooting at an Orlando nightclub years ago that targeted the LGBTQ+ community, like the shooting at the Texas border Walmart that targeted the Latino/a/x community, like the endless additions we add to the list when we say the names of Black lives violently lost—these events, while not occurring on our campus, have an emotional and physical impact on those who call Bloomington-Normal home.
I want to take this moment to reiterate Illinois State University’s commitment to diversity, equity, belonging, and social justice. This commitment does not mean easy answers to centuries-old questions… but instead, it means a commitment to the continued work we must do to face the real, painful brunt of racism and seek ways to understand and undo systems of oppression that uphold racism and the scarring pain it incurs. It may not be enough to tell members of our diverse community that the University stands with them, but I want to take this opportunity to assure you that as a campus community, we must stand together.
Our campus community has established supports not only for your safety, but for your emotional and social well-being. I encourage those who experience fear and anxiety to reach out for services at Student Counseling Services, the Multicultural Center, Dean of Students Office, our employee assistance programs, and to explore offerings from Health Promotion and Wellness. Most importantly, I encourage you to reach out to fellow members of the campus community and know that you are not alone.
My office has been in communication with leaders from AsiaConnect, the Multicultural Center, and the President’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council – and these groups are available to provide support and opportunities for dialogue.
Important tools for breaking down the barriers of bigotry and hatred include education and opportunities to redress the effects of misinformation about groups within our community who have been historically marginalized. I urge each of you to take advantage of the following educational resources to learn more on anti-Asian racism and violence.
- Stop AAPI Hate – https://stopaapihate.org/
- Resources to Address Anti-Asian Racism – https://aapcho.org/covid19/#stigma
- Stand Against Hatred – https://www.standagainsthatred.org/
- National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum – https://www.napawf.org/
Additionally, as we look to Asian Pacific Heritage Month in May, I ask that each of us make the commitment to educating ourselves about the rich history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Take this opportunity to celebrate and recognize the strength that comes from diversity on our campus and in our nation.
Illinois State University will continue to work to stand against racism. I hope you will join us in our collective effort.