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After ‘spike’ in anti-Asian violence, Harvard dean promises more race, ethnic studies faculty

The dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences promised “durable change” following the recent nationwide rise in anti-Asian violence.

In a recent interview, Dean Claudine Gay said this change would include a more diverse faculty and “fostering an inclusive climate,” The Crimson reports.

She also addressed students’ misgivings about several Harvard emails regarding the shootings of six Asian women in Atlnata last month.

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow had told students to contact Harvard Police if they had information about a race-based attack. In response, students said in an open letter that campus police are an “unacceptable and harmful remedy.”

“Police are all tied to not only racism but also sexism — a history of not helping with sexual- and gender-based violence and often exacerbating it and being involved in the fault themselves,” said Sanika Mahajan, a member of the groups South Asian Women’s Collective and Our Harvard Can Do Better.

Harvard Law student Marina Multhaup added there is “absolutely no indication” that university police “ha[ve] ever responded in a positive manner toward racialized violence.” Lynn Hur, a medical student, said Bacow’s statement was “just a complete slap in the face.”

Dean Gay said there are “a number of supports” outside of the Harvard U. Police Department of which students can take advantage. She also said everyone at Harvard “must stand in solidarity with members of the AAPI community [to] fight the false narratives that drive racist violence.”

MORE: Harvard to hire new ‘diversity, inclusion, belonging’ director for biz school

On the “durable change,” Gay said the current situation

… “provides even stronger motivation for us to pursue and succeed at our efforts to expand our curriculum, and more fully and robustly represent in our curriculum the diverse histories and experiences that are so formative to who we are as a society” …

Following an announcement last August that she would create two annual visiting professorships in ethnic studies, Gay shared that she has now extended offers for the inaugural cohort to “two leading scholars of race and ethnicity,” and she hopes to announce their appointments soon.

While she declined to comment on specifics of the separate cluster hire of three to four tenured ethnic studies faculty, Gay said the search “continues to move forward.” During an interview in March, Gay said she remains “excited and optimistic” about welcoming the new senior faculty “hopefully in the coming year.”

In the Wednesday interview, Gay said the FAS is firmly committed to carrying out the “important work” of addressing questions of race, diversity, and inequality.

Indeed, Gay said she believes things like academics who specialize in race and ethnicity can “make the world a better, more humane, and more just place.”

Read the Crimson articles.

MORE: Harvard Graduate School of Education to invest in ‘anti-racism,’ ‘critical pedagogy’

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