Date March 18, 2021
Media Contact

Letter from President Paxson: Confronting anti-Asian bias and violence

As the nation confronts incidents of violence against Asian and Asian American community members, Brown's president conveyed the University's firm stance against discrimination, racism and hate.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown President Christina H. Paxson shared the following message about confronting the increase in violence against members of Asian and Asian American communities with University students, faculty and staff on Thursday, March 18.

Against violence confronting Asian and Asian American communities

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

Over the past year, across the country we have seen an abhorrent increase in discrimination and violence against Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Earlier this week, we were further shaken by the horrific murders in Atlanta, Georgia, which claimed six women of Asian descent among the victims. Many of us, along with our families, are watching the news coverage of these events with shock, anger and sadness.

We recognize that the challenges being confronted by Asian-identified members of our community unfortunately have a deep history. These acts of discrimination and violence are especially disturbing in the context of the complex and longstanding issues of mounting hostility against people who are or are perceived to be of Chinese descent, further fueled by harmful political rhetoric related to China and the racialization of the COVID-19 pandemic. We feel deeply for any members of our community who continue to experience the hurt, anxiety, uncertainty and fear from these abhorrent acts.

Racially-motivated violence against any group of people is repugnant. As an academic community that is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, Brown stands firmly against discrimination, racism and hate. To our knowledge, Brown community members have not been direct victims of the violence we have seen elsewhere, but we understand that these horrific events cause pain within our community at a time that already is rife with uncertainty.

I want to reiterate what I and Provost Richard M. Locke have shared in recent faculty meetings and in town halls with students and staff — We are committed to ensuring that our Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander community of students, faculty and staff know that they are deeply valued as essential members of the Brown community. We recognize the amazing contributions they make as scholars, learners, colleagues and friends.

I want it to be clear to all who work, live and study at Brown who are Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander, you are an essential part of Brown and this is your community.

Earlier this month, Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity Shontay Delalue wrote to the Brown community to reinforce our values and share the many resources available for those who continue to be affected by anti-Asian bias. I’m sharing again the resources for reporting incidents at Brown and ways to seek support; they are appended at the bottom of this communication. In addition, peer leaders for our student organizations that support students from various Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities will soon receive a communication from the Office of Global Engagement highlighting ways they can offer support to the communities they serve.

Gatherings of solidarity and support are being planned within the Division of Campus Life to take place next week, following a separate community event on addressing anti-Asian violence that was held by the Brown Center for Students of Color earlier this month. As an institution of higher education, we also continue to confront these issues in our teaching and research. On Tuesday, March 23, the Department of East Asian Studies will host a talk on U.S.-China Relations and Anti-Asian Racism in America with Edward Steinfeld, director of the Thomas J. Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. I encourage all interested members of our community to attend.

I also urge understanding and support for members of our community who are experiencing these issues in personal ways for themselves and their families during this difficult time. While we grapple with the horrific incidents occurring around the country, we remain committed to ensuring that all members of our community are valued, respected and supported.

Sincerely,

Christina H. Paxson
President