Baruch Voices: Condemning Anti-Asian Hate, Offering Support, and Celebrating Our Diversity – Message to Students
April 1, 2021
Two weeks ago today, in response to the mass murder in Atlanta, I joined Baruch’s leadership team to share our Condemnation of Anti-Asian Hatred and Violence. The horrific events of that day brought nationwide attention to the increasing levels of bigotry and hate that the Asian community in this country continues to suffer, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. Yesterday, the White House took actions to address this surge of bias and violence, reinstating and expanding the Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Persistence at the highest level to address longtime and ongoing xenophobia is essential to this country’s future. We have seen crisis breed hate before. It has to end.
Solidarity and Sustained Commitment
Last June, in the wake of the death of George Floyd, I wrote to the campus community as the incoming president of Baruch. I said that “it is more critical now than ever before for us to support each other, and to come together as a community. I share the anger and outrage of the thousands of people marching in U.S. cities large and small, as well as in communities around the world, to protest the legacy of discrimination and racial injustice that is engrained in our society… Racism is not just relevant to the Black community; it is germane to us all. And only through solidarity and sustained commitment can we begin to undo the horrific consequences of racism.”
Less than a year later, we are confronted with yet another wave of horrific incidences as a consequence of racism. An attack on the safety and dignity of any group in our community is an attack on all of us. Since becoming the president on July 1, 2020, I have made diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) the College’s top priority, and I charged the presidential council on DEI to take on an approach of institutional transformation. What is institutional transformation? It is the intentional, explorative, and collective community action to reaffirm our values, culture, and behaviors—leading to substantive change in policy, process, and practice. The College’s senior leadership is committed to this work—over the course of the last year, we have launched new initiatives and coordinated new efforts to cultivate a welcoming environment and culture at Baruch.
At The City University of New York, Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez decried the violence in Atlanta and led the call for solidarity. The centrality of this community is also reflected in CUNY TV’s Asian American Life channel, an in-depth news magazine program that profiles Asian American leaders and addresses issues affecting Asian Americans nationwide.
The College and the University are committed to community safety and to the personal and professional growth of all of our students. To everyone in our community, I pledge to continue our ongoing respectful dialog, to build upon equity, inclusion, and the celebration of our differences. Hate has no place at Baruch.
Raise Your Voices
Positive change is the result of individual and collective activism, which takes many forms, especially within our most immediate communities. Many of you have joined the conversation at Baruch’s recent series of Campus Listening Sessions—thank you—and on social media using such hashtags as #StopAsianHate and #StopTheHate. I encourage you to express your sadness, anger, and most importantly, your solidarity and to call for change.
Support Is Available
There is no reason to deal with this alone. If you are struggling, if you would like to connect to a supportive community to share your experiences, feelings, and perspectives, I encourage you to reach out and connect to the services that Baruch and CUNY provide, including:
- CUNY’s new Crisis Text Line delivers immediate access to counselors and free, confidential counseling 24/7 via text.
- Baruch’s Counseling Center offers free and confidential individual and group counseling and support sessions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for individual counseling. Group counseling sessions, called “Relationship to Self and Others,” meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1–2 pm, on Zoom. To participate on Tuesday, email Choi@baruch.cuny.edu; to participate on Thursday, email Kailin.Fu@baruch.cuny.edu.
- Reach out to Baruch’s Dean of Students Office for help and guidance.
Coming Together: April’s Heritage Month
Especially in these troubling times, it is critical that we come together as a community to not just to offer support and compassion and work toward change but to revel in Baruch’s signature diversity.
As the first Asian American to lead a CUNY college as president, I very much look forward to our long-planned Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month, celebrated at Baruch in April, the last full month that we are all together before summer break. Let’s take this opportunity to reflect on the Asian American experience, challenges, accomplishments, and contributions. The theme of Baruch’s celebration this year is “commUNITY,” highlighting the unity that brings this diverse community—Asians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. and people from throughout the Asian continent, India, and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia—together. APIDA is one of the College’s yearly calendar of Heritage Month celebrations.
The Office of Student Life has curated a calendar of APIDA Heritage Month events. Opening Night is Wednesday, Apr. 7, 6–8 pm, a cultural showcase with Baruch student organizations presenting aspects of their cultures. The event will also include games and prizes! Please follow the APIDA Instagram account, @baruchapida, for more information on events and campaigns.
Standing Up for Our Values and Moving Forward
Baruch occupies a special niche in higher education—celebrated for our academic excellence, access, and diversity. We are uniquely positioned to take a leadership role against racism and for equity and social justice. Let’s continue to celebrate our diversity while working to transform our institution and world to attain true equity and inclusion. We all have a role to play.
President, Baruch College