March 8, 2021
Dear UConn Community,
One of the most alarming and upsetting developments of the past year stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic has been a surge of hate crimes, bias incidents, and racist bullying directed against the Asian community throughout our country. Since the pandemic began last year, many Asians and Asian Americans around the United States have been the target of acts of hate and violence, with a disturbing number of crimes directed against the elderly.
Make no mistake: The hatred that lies behind these crimes is not new. Violence against Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities has deep roots in the history of the United States. It is the duty of each one of us to face up to that history, and to the contemporary manifestations of it that happen on our streets, businesses, and schools every day.
As a scholarly community devoted to the highest principles of human achievement, UConn must stand resolutely against hatred, discrimination, and violence when directed at Asians, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, or anyone else targeted by these malignant forces.
We can start by doing something as simple as reaching out to our friends, fellow students, and colleagues to offer our support, friendship, and care. The pressure that the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander members of our community are facing is intense, and by refusing to be bystanders to hate, by offering to stand in solidarity with our fellow Huskies, we can help ease that pressure.
Additionally, I am encouraging all of us to attend the virtual seminar Asians in America: Anti-Asian Violence & the Fight against Invisibility, scheduled for Thursday, March 18 at 5 p.m. We should all also become familiar with the resources and perspectives of the Asian American Cultural Center, which provides a welcoming and sustaining environment for students, faculty, and staff. Another important resource is the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, which is at the center of intellectual efforts to advance knowledge related to the experiences of people of Asian descent. This institute has been a vital partner in the mobilization of responses to anti-Asian violence and a longtime advocate for racial justice.
The national surge in hate crimes and bias incidents can be severely damaging to mental health, even for those who have not directly been victims. We are a community that cares for each other. As such, remember to seek help if you need it. UConn offers a number of resources to provide support during this time, including Student Health and Wellness, the Dean of Students Office, and our Cultural Centers. Faculty and staff can seek support from the Employee Assistance Program. Support and resources for faculty and staff can also be found through campus affinity groups. All of these resources are available whether you are located on campus or remotely.
Most importantly, I want to offer my personal commitment to the Asian and Asian American members of the UConn community: You are seen and heard. Your history, your struggle, and your contributions are not invisible, but an essential and indispensable part of the University of Connecticut. This is a painful time, but I know that together we will overcome this challenge.
President, University of Connecticut