Staff Editorial: AU administration fails to address AAPI violence
We’ve talked about this before
Following two tragic mass shootings in California at Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay in January, Project Pengyou and the Korean and Hindu Student Associations held a vigil on campus honoring the victims. The Monterey Park massacre occurred during a Lunar New Year celebration, drawing fear from AAPI communities across the nation. As American University student groups created a safe space for mourning students, the University administration stood idly by.
Although the University said an email was sent to students in the “surrounding communities” of Half Moon Bay, students attending the Editorial Board who lived in the surrounding area reported not receiving these emails. Not only should students living near the affected areas have received this email, but the student population at large should have as well. AU told The Eagle that there were certain qualifications needed for an email to be sent to all students: “Our decision framework reviews questions such as whether the incident occurred on our campus or in the broader DC community, if it involves higher education matters or took place on another college campus, or did it directly affect large segments of the AU community, among other areas.”
AAPI students were directly affected by these events. By choosing what issues are worthy of attention from the University, AU, as usual, places a heavy burden on the backs of students. After students are solely tasked to provide these services, AU does not help advertise student group attempts at comradery. AU did not mention the Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay vigil on its social media accounts, nor did any administrators make an apparent effort to attend the event.
AU’s social media is gravely misused. Rather than promote student activism or share helpful resources, AU tends to use its social media as a form of marketing for prospective families. While social media is, of course, a great way for prospective students to learn about AU, it should also serve current students. The school-wide communications we receive over email tend to be unhelpful and underutilized by the administration. The Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay shootings occurred on Jan. 22 and 24, respectively. On Jan. 25, President Sylvia Burwell sent a school-wide email entitled “Continuing Our Work to Address Antisemitism.” While this email could have been a great opportunity to express her condolences about the tragedy while offering information about how incidents of hate on campus are being addressed, it did not mention the shootings at all. The email concluded by informing students that the investigation into the antisemitic Anderson Hall graffiti was being closed. For a school that prides itself on so-called inclusive excellence, this is yet another disappointment.
Our disappointment can be summarized through a nearly identical staff editorial from April 2021, when another shooting targeting the AAPI community prompted little response from the University. As we said then, “Sadly, there is a clear and carefully formulated pattern the University displays after a traumatic incident occurs. An email, with the same resources each time, is sent to the community and we see little to no follow-up. Offering the Counseling Center as a catch-all solution is insufficient …” Only two things have changed since then. The Counseling Center has been renamed the Center for Well-Being Programs and Psychological Services, and AU sent a campus-wide email about the shooting last time.
For a campus known for activism in the student body, it is imperative that students outside of the AAPI community listen to and support their peers. As a predominantly white newsroom, we at The Eagle know we are not immune to this.
The administration and the campus at large must be more inclusive in our activism. Our campus tends to pick and choose which issues to be angry about depending on what’s trendy. Let this be one.
This article was edited by Alexis Bernstein and Nina Heller. Copy editing by Isabelle Kravis, Leta Lattin, Natasha LaChac and Sarah Clayton.