Students at the University of Wisconsin in Madison are urging the administration to take action after a Chinese doctoral student was punched and kicked by a group of men while walking downtown Madison near the campus.
UW Madison’s interim chancellor John Carl Scholes said in a statement last week that the incident was “a violent and aggressive attack that has affected students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and many on campus, especially our Asian, Pacific islanders and countrymen.” Asian community.
According to the statement, on the same night, June 14, a Chinese undergraduate repeatedly threw a banana at him and reported being injured from the encounter. Madison Police also told university officials that another attack in the area on June 12 involved a white man with no contact with campus and a Latino undergraduate who went to the hospital for his injuries. The same four suspects, who were arrested by Madison police, are believed to be involved in all the attacks.
An incident report from the City of Madison Police Department on the doctoral student’s battery said detectives “have no information that they can believe the attack was racially motivated at this time.” Campus administrators and police echoed this message in a June 22 campus security update when Asian students acknowledged the fears and concerns they might feel.
“While we have no evidence that these incidents were inspired by race, we know that every time such incidents occur, it affects the well-being of all of our students, and especially of our Asian, Pacific islanders and Native American students. , Faculty, and staff, and other communities of color, read the statement. “We are committed to creating a safer community in UW-Madison where everyone feels they belong, and we know we need to do more.”
Two zoom events were held on campus last week to provide virtual support to Asian students. Campus police and Madison police have also increased their presence in downtown.
Students do not seem to be reassured. An open letter, signed by various student groups, student government associations, independent students and faculty and staff members, emphasized that the incident had had an “adverse effect” on “Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans” on campus. Meanwhile, a public petition, signed by more than 2,500 people, continues to collect signatures expressing similar concerns.
The open letter reads, “We are horrified, devastated and outraged by this heinous incident. “Many of us were shocked because the attack took place on Madison’s busiest street, where our friends and family live and walk every day. What’s worse, it’s far from isolated. We have seen growing anti-Asian racism on campus and across the country over the past few years. ”
The letter questioned the claims of university and police officials that recent events were not inspired by racism and concluded that “this is inconsistent with what we have learned from multiple credible sources, including the victim.” It claims that campus police, Madison Police and the Dan County District Attorney’s Office will “investigate the case more thoroughly, fairly and expeditiously” and punish university attackers if they are found to be involved with campus.
It called on the administration to “work out a systematic measure to prevent similar incidents” and to be transparent about plans to respond to violent or discriminatory incidents in the future. The letter called for a compulsory diversification, equity and inclusion course for all students, faculty and staff.
The letter reads, “In this difficult time, we need clarity, understanding and, most importantly, concrete action as soon as possible.”
The incident comes at a time when anti-Asian hate crimes are on the rise.
Russell Jung, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, a non-profit organization that tracks discrimination and harassment of Asian and Pacific islands in the United States, says about 11,000 incidents have been reported in the group since March 2020, when the epidemic was declared a national emergency. Was. One-fifth of Asian Americans say they have experienced hate incidents between March 2020 and September 2021. A Pew Research Center report released in May also found that one-third of Asian Americans have changed their daily routines for fear of increasing attacks.
“Since the inception of COVID-19, there has been a rise in racism against Asian Americans, especially East Asians,” said Jeung, a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. Former President Donald Trump called COVID-19 a “China virus” and his speech about its Chinese origins, “Asians’ scapegoat for the origin of COVID-19, and I think many other Americans have turned their fears and anger towards CoVID.” Conducted. Asian. “
While hate crimes against Asians are not new in the United States, “this is really a time of collective racial trauma,” he added. “Many of us have increased anxiety, hypervigilance, anger – that’s our trauma response.”
Two years after the epidemic, he sees it as a driver of discrimination against Asians.
“There is still a lot of outbreak. There is still a lot of fear about Covid-19, ”he said. “There is still a lot of resentment about the economic situation in the United States and there are more than a million people dead and there is a lot of grief. I think a lot of that mental anguish has been blamed on Asians. ”
The scapegoat and the scapegoat have become a source of concern among Asian students across the country who have faced anti-Asian cyber bullying, verbal attacks and petty aggression, Xiong said.
However, he also noted that such incidents have encouraged activism among Asian students, who have pushed for increased ethnic study programs on campus and more Asian American Study faculty members and met their demands.
“There is an active response,” he said.