Campus responds to increased anti-Asian hate crimes amid pandemic

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In response to increased Anti-Asian hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic, UC Berkeley and campus organizations have taken action to support the Asian community.

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Anti-Asian hate crimes have risen significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with reporting database Stop AAPI Hate receiving almost 3,000 accounts of hate crimes since spring 2020.

Although roughly one in four Bay Area residents is Asian, according to Bay Area Census data, this region is not an exception to the national trend. There have been multiple documented instances of violent anti-Asian sentiment and attacks in the past few months, with some directed at those of Asian descent over the age of 60.

In response to the issue, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ sent out a campuswide email Tuesday in support of the Asian community, expressing sympathy and solidarity with those who are affected by this violence. In the email, Christ provided resources for those in need, which included websites for reporting incidents, campus counseling and campus affinity groups.

“The Division of Equity & Inclusion stands with Chancellor Christ and our campus community in denouncing acts of hate and these horrific acts targeting our Asian and Asian-American communities,” said Oscar Dubón, Jr., vice chancellor for equity and inclusion at UC Berkeley, in an email. “Advancing belonging — including combating structural forms of othering — on campus for our Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) faculty, staff, and students is certainly a priority.”

There has not been an increase in reported hate crimes on campus, according to UCPD spokesperson Sabrina Reich. She said in an email that this could be partially due to having fewer people on campus, but noted that hate crimes tend to be underreported.

However, various campus organizations spoke on this issue and have taken action to combat racism.

Taiwanese Student Association external vice president Mark Chan said in an email that he noticed the rise in anti-Asian sentiment around the time the pandemic began, and he condemned the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. The Indian Student Association, or ISA, has been reposting numerous resources to educate people on the issue, as well as circulating websites regarding grassroots organizations that support Asian safety, according to Pratiyush Singh, co-president of ISA.

Several ASUC senators have also spoken out against anti-Asian violence.

“My fellow ASUC Senators Rex Zhang & Samuel Peng have been working to demand more awareness about these issues from campus administration and have spent days/nights working to encourage administration to release resources that uplift students,” said Senator Ruchi Shah in an email.

Shah added that she and her office are currently working on a campaign series to “shed more light” on the issue.

Peng addressed this issue by passing a resolution supporting the incorporation of xenophobia prevention exercises in new student activities, and he noted that this type of violence is not the only issue Asian Americans face.

“I do want to add that I believe the Asian community has long been regarded as ‘model minority’ and people too often fail to recognize the racism, xenophobia, and discrimination Asian people face every single day in this country,” Peng said in an email. “I hope people can recognize the anti-Asian sentiments and the insurmountable odds Asian people are facing on a daily basis.”

Contact Megha Krishnan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @_meghakrishnan_.