|On Monday, as students began their last week of classes on campus, we had an opportunity to reflect on what it means to belong and to serve at the University of Miami when the newly elected Student Government Executive Board met with senior members of the administration.|
During our discussion, senior leaders agreed on the importance of expressing support for members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, as they overcome acts of hatred most recently fueled by unfair stigma related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The value of such support came into clear view during our Courageous Conversations series this semester. And on Tuesday, during a student-led COVID-19 memorial on campus, our AAPI student leaders personally shared how acutely they felt the impact of reprehensible displays of bigotry this year.
According to a recent analysis, anti-Asian hate crime in sixteen (16) of America’s largest cities increased 149% in 2020. A surge of COVID cases coincided with the rise in xenophobia, scapegoating, and negative stereotyping related to the pandemic contributing to a spike in violence. While Miami is not among these cities, we must never grow complacent, and we must constantly reaffirm our values to stem the tide of hate.
Students and administrators bring different perspectives to challenges, but we could not let this year end without stating unequivocally that there are certain principles—applicable to our AAPI colleagues and classmates in this instance—on which we will always agree.
First, our words and actions are the tools for progress in the face of dehumanization. Second, neutrality always favors the oppressor. Creating a culture of belonging and solidarity demands active and intentional engagement. Finally, we must resolve to stand together not for a moment, but for the long term.
We will continue to commit to working with that ’Cane spirit to increase awareness and understanding, pursue justice and equity, and ensure that each member of our community—both on and off campus—is seen, heard, and valued.
We are one U.
University of Miami
Patricia A. Whitely
Senior Vice President
Landon C. Coles
Student Government President