vendredi, septembre 23, 2005

and I *thought* we lived in the 21st century...

Dear colleagues:
I am forwarding a copy of a letter that we sent as faculty in the Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Studies program to the UM administration and Michigan Daily as an immediate response to the recent report of ethnic intimidation towards UM Asian American students.
I have included a link to the Michigan Daily where this story was reported on the front page so you may read about the heinous nature of this incident and will join us in expressing your outrage and disgust about this incident and challenge the UM administration to publicly decry this offense.
At this time, the faculty in APIA Studies and other Asian American faculty in other programs and departments are meeting with various student and faculty groups to discuss the next course of action to be taken. To date, President Mary Sue Colemen and other UM officials have not publicly expressed their outrage about this incident and we are troubled that such public silence may communicate that these types of ethnic intimidation or harassment are tolerated or condoned on this campus.
Please join us and make sure that others know about this incident and to challenge UM officials to take a public stance against such acts and to mobilize the necessary resources to address this issue on a campus-wide basis.
Phillip Akutsu
------------ Forwarded Message -----------


Subject: Faculty concern over racial incident
Mary Sue Coleman, President
Edward Gramlich, Interim Provost
Lester P. Monts, Senior Vice Provost
Royster Harper, Vice President for Student Affairs
John Matlock, Director, Office of Academic and Multicultural Initiatives;
Patricia Aqui, Director, Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs;
Patricia Gurin, Acting Director, Center for Institutional Diversity

An Open Letter
We, the core cluster of faculty in Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies,
work earnestly in our teaching and research to increase interracial
understanding and tolerance throughout the UM community. One of our responsibilities is to educate students and colleagues alike to the deep historical record of anti-Asian racism and violence throughout American history.

An incident like the one reported on the front page of Wednesday's Michigan Daily (Sept. 21), involving two male university students assaulting a couple of Asian heritage by shouting racial slurs, throwing eggs, and urinating on the couple, is unequivocally outrageous. The incivility of this assault is incomprehensible. We are also deeply troubled by the remarks of two leaders of Asian student organizations interviewed in the story. Both spoke openly about experiencing racially-motivated bias themselves, and admitted that this kind of incident was not surprising to them. It is profoundly disturbing that students of color continue to endure racial bias and harassment on this campus, and we underscore the likelihood that such racial bias and intimidation is significantly underreported. Incidents like the racially-motivated intimidation reported in today's Michigan Daily--also reported in the Ann Arbor News and the Detroit Free Press several days ago--cannot be tolerated or condoned by university officials or public authorities. Moreover, it is unfortunate that a public incident such as this has once again unmasked more pervasive ethnic and racial discrimination that remains underdocumented. We call on the university leadership to honor its commitment to valuing diversity, by taking a public stand against racially-motivated bias and attacks, and to marshall the necessary resources to ensure that the wider university community can collaborate collectively to end such race-based bias and intimidation. We further call on university officials and public authorities to apply the full extent of civil and university codes in sanctioning the students who perpetrated the acts.
Phillip D. Akutsu
Vicente M. Diazp
Scott Kurashige
Emily P. Lawsin
Susan Y. Najita
Damon Salesa
Sarita See
Amy K. Stillman, Director Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies within the Program in American Culture College of Literature, Science, and the Arts University of Michigan

Students may face charges for racially motivated felony

Police say there is a good chance victims will file a lawsuit
By Rachel Kruer, Daily Staff Reporter
September 21, 2005

The Ann Arbor Police Department has issued warrants for two University students for allegedly yelling obscenities and urinating on two students in a racially motivated act.

The incident began when one of the suspects, a 21-year-old, allegedly urinated from a second-floor balcony on two Asian students walking down the 600 block of South Forest Avenue Thursday night.

After the couple asked why they were being urinated on, the suspect and another student reportedly began to use racial slurs disparaging the couple’s Asian heritage.

The situation escalated, according to a police report, when at least one student began throwing items, which the couple suspected were eggs, at the couple.

One of the students was immediately taken into custody. The other student who urinated on the couple, barricaded himself in the apartment, which the police could not enter without a warrant.

However, the AAPD knows the identity of the student, who could face jail time if prosecuted.

AAPD Lt. Michael Logghe classified the crime as ethnic intimidation, or verbal or physical attack against a person of another race or gender. Logghe said ethnic intimidation is a felony and carries a maximum penalty of four years in jail. The suspects could also be charged with assault, and one of the suspects could face a charge of indecent exposure, which would require him to register as a sex offender.

Keith Elkin, director of the Office of Student Conflict Resolution, said he could not comment on whether OSCR was handling the case.

However, he said crimes involving ethnic intimidation do not only break city law, but also violate the University’s code of conduct.

“We protect student rights and have the responsibility to talk to students,” Elkin said. “Also, we have the ability to consider if the violation was motivated by bias, in which (case) we could consider sanctioning a student.”

If OSCR were asked to intervene, Elkin said there were a range of consequences a perpetrator of ethnic intimidation could face, from a formal reprimand to expulsion from the University.

Sgt. Angela Abrams of the AAPD said the victims will likely prosecute.

The police report also included a statement from an independent witness — an employee at a parking structure on South Forest — who said she saw the men assault the couple.

The incident has galvanized members of the Asian community — some of whom have also faced the humiliation of ethnic intimidation first-hand.

Cindy Chuang, LSA senior and president of the Taiwanese American Student Association, said she was appalled and shocked that a fellow University student could be demeaned in public.

But she herself said she has experienced racial bias from fellow students, who she said were drunk when the incident occurred.

While walking down South University Avenue, Chuang said a group of students yelled, “Wow, you speak really good English” and “You talk with a white accent.”

LSA senior and former Korean Student Association President Paul Yun said he was disgusted by the incident but not surprised that it happened.

Yun said that he has also faced discrimination in Ann Arbor.

While using a public restroom at Good Time Charley’s, Yun said he was referred to as “Bruce Lee” and “Ching Chong.”

He also said that many of his friends have experienced similar incidents.

Yun said that the issue needs to be addressed immediately. He said he expected the United Asian American Organizations — an umbrella group for the Asian student groups on campus — would be the first to respond to the matter.

At the very least, Yun said this incident will call attention to a problem on campus and could potentially empower the Asian community to improve the climate for minority students at the University.