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Harvard student government president targeted with anti-Asian racist notes

Someone allegedly left signs calling him a ‘ch*nk’

The president of the Harvard Undergraduate Council said he is the victim of racist notes left on his dorm room door.

Michael Cheng is in the middle of an attempted restructuring of the student government after a contentious campaign. Cheng previously alleged his predecessors could not account for more than $100,000 in student fees.

Cheng had run on a platform that aimed to clean up the Ivy League institution’s student government, which he contended was rife with irresponsible financial management, bureaucratic red tape and office politics.

He is currently working with a separate organization called the Citizens Assembly that is “drafting a new constitution for Harvard College’s student government,” according to the Harvard Crimson campus paper.

Cheng provided The College Fix with photos of the signs (pictured) that were posted on his door in Quincy House, a residence building on campus. The signs contain a racial slur for Chinese people.

“Michael Cheng is a ch*nk Save the UC,” the signs stated.

“It’s been referred to the Harvard University Police Department,” Cheng told The Fix via email on February 15. He declined to comment any further on the investigation or incident in a February 28 email because it remains ongoing.

Victor Clay and Steven Catalano with the campus police department have not responded to two emails sent in the past three weeks. The Fix asked for an update on the investigation, if the police had interviewed any suspects and if there are security cameras on the floor.

Faculty Deans Eric Beerbohm and Leslie Duhaylongsod called the notes “deplorable,” according to The Crimson. They did not answer questions from The College Fix about steps taken to find the suspect.

The Fix emailed twice in the past three weeks and asked for an update on the investigation and what they thought should happen to the perpetrator. The Fix also asked if the residents on the floor had been interviewed.

Cheng rejects ‘statement of solidarity’

Cheng soon after “rejected a statement of solidarity from general members written in response to racist signs posted on his door earlier this week,” The Crimson reported on February 17.

The statement, shared with The Fix, said in part:

We debate issues, not identities, nor individuals, and all stand in full solidarity with Michael Cheng—not only as representatives, nor merely as an institution, but as fellow students and human beings.

We are committed to making our campus one of inclusion, empathy, and action in support of those communities at Harvard that have been silenced for centuries. From advocacy to our administration, to the continuing forceful push for a multicultural center and ethnic studies department, these words will continue to be paired with the most intentional action.

He did not accept the UC members’ solidarity statement.

He said he believes it is a fellow Undergraduate Council member who targeted him.

“The person or people that are responsible for yesterday’s hateful attack, as well as the multiple kinds of other attacks targeting me, are potentially in this room right now,” Cheng said at the February 15 meeting.

“We’re now supposed to take seriously that the Undergraduate Council is offended by anti-Asian racism, with many of its members engaged in a multi-month harassment campaign that was influenced by anti-Asian stereotypes,” Cheng said the next day in follow-up statements, according to The Crimson.

MORE: Harvard newspaper editor drops out of pre-med due to white supremacy

IMAGES: Michael Cheng

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and a M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.