The Asian Pacific American Student Organization (APASO), Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American/Asian Faculty and Staff Association (APIDA/AFSA), and the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions (OCAT) will be holding a virtual town hall at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Mar. 25, and a vigil at the Rock on campus later that evening.
The event comes in the wake of a mass shooting in Atlanta in which a gunman targeted massage parlors, killing eight individuals, six of whom were Asian women. The shooting occurred amid several of the nation’s largest cities reporting upticks during the pandemic in verbal and physical attacks against Asians.
The Michigan State University community has been said to have experienced similar upticks. During the winter of 2020, some MSU community members spoke out about increasing anti-Asian sentiment on campus associated with the coronavirus. In February of 2020, APASO in conjunction with several other student organizations released a letter calling attention to how Asian students had been treated on campus.
“The spread of disinformation in the form of decontextualized videos and memes about Chinese and Asian people on social media have led members of our community to be labeled as carriers of the coronavirus,” wrote the authors.
“[M]embers of the Asian and APIDA community continue to be discriminated against and isolated from their rightful academic and social communities for coughing, sneezing, and wearing surgical face masks—common behaviors during our cold and flu season,” it continued.
APASO held a town hall on Feb. 20 to address these concerns. MSU President Sam Stanley did not attend but had the University Physician, David Weismantel, read a statement that he had prepared.
In a separate update to the community with details on how MSU was monitoring the situation, Weismantel said, “Remember that there are many international students impacted by this outbreak, with family, friends and loved ones in affected regions.”
Approximately 2,500 MSU students are Asian or Asian-American, and, according to U.S. Census data, Asians account for over 12 percent of East Lansing’s population due in part to students living off campus.
The town hall on Thursday, Mar. 25, is being organized “[i]n light of recent anti-Asian violence.” The organizers intend for the event to be a “safe space for community members to share their stories and to be heard. We also want to hear your ideas about how MSU can better support the APIDA [Asian Pacific Islander Desi American] community.”
Those interested in attending the virtual town hall can register here.
A vigil at the Rock on campus (located on Farm Lane, just north of the Red Cedar River) will be held on Thursday evening as well. More information, including Covid-19 safety protocols, are forthcoming.