ASUC Senate bill expresses support for UCLA and USC Asian Pacific Islander groups

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ASUC senators unanimously passed a bill Wednesday evening in solidarity with Asian Pacific Islander communities at UCLA and USC in the wake of recent hate-speech-related incidents at these campuses.

On Feb. 5, letters containing racial slurs and epithets targeting Asian Pacific Islander communities — and women in particular — were sent to the Asian American studies departments at UCLA and USC.

Since the incident, student groups at UCLA and USC have requested the support of Asian Pacific Islander organizations at UC Berkeley, as well as endorsed statements released by both universities’ Asian Pacific student coalitions detailing the incidents and calling for a response from administration.

“A lot of the words (in the letters) were very derogatory, racist, sexist, and they were pretty much promoting an unsafe environment for students to be on their campus,” said Victor Phu, a UC Berkeley junior who co-authored the bill and is the director of the West Coast Asian Pacific Islander Student Union.

The bill, SB 18, requests that the ASUC stand in solidarity with the students, calls on External Affairs Vice President Safeena Mecklai to ask the UC Student Association to endorse the coalition’s statement and asks ASUC President DeeJay Pepito to address these issues to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, among other points.

Such hate-speech-related incidents are not restricted to USC and UCLA, said Phu, who added that this could happen at UC Berkeley as well.

“When I first saw the (letter), I saw right away Asian women were being targeted and attacked,” said Jenny Lu, a UC Berkeley junior and an intern for Asian Pacific American Student Development. “As an Asian American woman myself, I felt like it was directed towards me and attacking me as an individual.”

After the Asian Pacific Islander groups from both universities contacted UC Berkeley student organizations for support, a number of student groups jumped in immediately, such as the Asian Pacific American Student Development office.

“(UCLA’s) Asian Pacific Coalition reached out to us to help them in raising awareness and taking action upon this issue,” said CalSERVE Senator Sean Tan, a co-author of the bill. “The next day, we pretty much issued a photo campaign to stand in solidarity with UCLA.”

The photo campaign, which began at UCLA, posts photos of supporters with words on their arms that “promote inner strength and fight discrimination,” according to Phu.

“I’ll definitely be bringing it up within the ASUC as well as reaching out to the Asian Pacific Coalition and seeing how I can support them as well,” Mecklai said. “It was really hard for me to read about it because it makes the UC a very unwelcoming place to be. I’ll do what I can to support the coalition.”

Contact Chris Tril at [email protected].