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Staff, students at Cornell demand ‘institutional change’ to combat anti-Asian racism

Much like how George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis served as the catalyst for systemic racial change for blacks, colleges and universities are leading the way in trying to turn the Atlanta shootings into the same for Asians and Asian-Americans.

In this spirit of “never let a crisis go to waste,” Cornell University staff and students want the school to offer more mental health services, “more robust” diversity trainings and more funding for Asian-based programs, The Cornell Daily Sun reports.

The Cornell Asian Pacific Student Union is asking for university staff and administration to undergo mental health and diversity training every semester because, it say, “to wait until the [Asian] community or the Black community or the Indigenous community are further victimized before taking action suppresses [their] already marginalized voices.”

The “diversity and inclusion” chairwomen for Phi Gamma Nu and Phi Chi Theta want diversity training mandated for all student organizations.

Romance Studies Professor Julia Chang pointed to a Faculty Development and Diversity office report that noted female Asian faculty “worked longer hours and did more domestic work at home” than their peers. In addition, a 2016 Cornell survey showed Asian faculty reported being “less satisfied” with their positions than faculty from other demographics.

MORE: CBS News severely misrepresents univ. research into anti-Asian incidents

Regarding the former, Chang complained that all Cornell has offered (female) Asian staff is a “semi-annual luncheon.”

From the story:

Discussing what actions people and universities could take in regards to anti-Asian racism, one of the cofounders of Stop AAPI Hate, Prof. Russell Jeung, Asian American studies, San Francisco State University, spoke at a lecture titled “Stopping Anti-Asian Hate During COVID-19 and Beyond” with the Asian and Asian American Center on March 31.

Jeung stressed how University actions such as increasing funding for the Asian American Studies program and the Asian and Asian American Center are tangible ways to stand against anti-Asian racism, especially given that ethnic and identity-based programs at Cornell have long struggled with budget cuts, faculty shortage and lack of administrative support.

“I think change needs to happen in terms of curriculum and I think what we might also be seeing right in this moment is the lack of faculty who can speak on Asian American issues across departments,” [Prof. Christine] Balance said. “Therefore, what happens is, the onus for speaking on these issues gets placed upon us.”

It’s rather difficult for colleges, especially elite universities, to sound sincere when it comes to showing solidarity with the Asian community given their stances on affirmative action. A few years back, The Daily Sun reported how Cornell admissions officers could “breathe easier” after a judge ruled for Harvard University in the Students for Fair Admissions affirmative action case.

The plaintiffs had pointed out that Harvard admissions officers give lower “personal scores” to Asians in order to effect “racial balancing.”

The Daily Sun editorial board itself came out against Students for Fair Admissions in an October 2018 editorial. In it, the editors did not address much of the substance of SFFA’s case, instead choosing to claim its founder, Edwin Blum, was on an “idealogical crusade” and that the Flint, Michigan clean water crisis somehow was relevant to the topic.

Read the article.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.