Two reprehensible incidents of hate occurred on our campus in the past week. In the first, several Asian students were verbally assaulted with hateful anti-Asian rhetoric by the occupants of a passing vehicle while walking on Professors Row. In the second, a large swastika was painted on the Bello Field shed, and was found by members of a Tufts athletic team. University President Anthony Monaco broke the news of these hateful acts with an email to the university community on Sunday morning, condemning anti-Asian hate and antisemitism and announcing an investigation of these incidents by the Tufts University Police Department.
The Daily stands in solidarity with the communities impacted by these despicable acts. When confronting this tide of hate, it is imperative that we do not become desensitized to these attacks, and instead that we act with urgency to promptly deliver justice. Hate has absolutely no place on this campus; students, staff, faculty and community members must come together to actively fight against hate and make this campus a safe one for Asian, Asian American and Jewish communities.
Such acts of hate against marginalized communities are unfortunately not new to this campus, nor to this country. In November of both 2018 and 2019, posters bearing the phrase “It’s okay to be white,” a disturbing statement of white nationalism, were discovered on campus. In September of 2019, a student found a swastika affixed to their door, a clear act of antisemitism. This trend has persisted despite our campus’ move to online learning; on Feb. 6, someone gained control of the screen during a presentation that was part of the School of Engineering’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Colloquium Series and wrote a racist term across the screen.
Both anti-Asian hate and antisemitism are on the rise in the United States. According to a 2020 American Jewish Committee report, over 80% of Jewish identifiers believed that antisemitism had increased over the previous five years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has seen a significant rise in attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Stop AAPI Hate, a center tracking and responding to incidents of hate, violence, harassment and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, reported 3,795 incidents from March 2020 to March 2021.
According to Monaco in his May 2 email, the Tufts Office of Equal Opportunity has seen an increase in reports of bias in recent years. Despite increased university efforts and expressed commitment to become an anti-racist institution, these incidents continue to occur. Tufts Admissions took a monumental step this spring in its acceptance of the Class of 2025: the most diverse in Tufts’ history. Among this admitted class of undergraduate students, 56% are people of color. It is the duty of our entire community to foster a safe, bias-free and actively anti-racist campus both for these students as we welcome them to Tufts, and for those who are already a part of our immediate community.
To support these incoming students as well as current members of our community, it is imperative that we call out these incidents as we see them. Bystander intervention is an effective way to disrupt acts of hate as they happen, and to prevent future harassment. If you witness an act of discrimination, Tufts offers several avenues for filing complaints and seeking other forms of support, such as contacting the Office of Equal Opportunity directly, or filing an anonymous report through the EthicsPoint hotline. For students who are themselves victims of these acts, our campus is home to religious and cultural centers that can offer support and a sense of community, such as Tufts Hillel and the six centers within the Division of Student Diversity and Inclusion.
Bias Education and Resource Teams, established earlier this semester, should work to track trends of discrimination against marginalized communities at Tufts and establish more robust structures based on this data to prevent future incidents. Further, implementing mandatory, campuswide educational trainings is one way to proactively address patterns of hate on our campus. We also call upon these teams to provide spaces for affected groups to heal and engage in dialogue.
Systems of oppression are not simple, nor are the ways in which we should respond to them; the process of repairing our community and becoming an anti-racist institution will take time. But the complexity of these systems does not mean we are helpless to dismantle them. We must act now to listen to and support those who have been impacted by incidents of bias and hate, while also pushing ourselves and our institution further to confront systems of oppression that exist within our community.