The SUNY New Paltz Asian and Pacific Islander Student Alliance (APISA) led a wide-ranging conversation on Asian hate in America, attended by peer students, faculty and campus leaders on Nov. 3.
The event grew out of a dialogue that began between students, APISA members, campus leaders and faculty when students shared their concerns in a letter to faculty last spring. It was envisioned as a safe space for campus community members to speak openly, and was not recorded.
Co-organizer Jade Wong ’23 (Sociology) and APISA members Kaitlin Feliciano ’22 (Accounting; Theatre Arts) and Van Vo ’24 (Biology) set the stage for the discussion with a prepared presentation detailing the history of the Asian American experience, with a focus on common stereotypes.
The hosts then opened the floor for anyone to speak. What followed was a productive discussion between students and faculty on shared experiences dealing with and observing Asian American hate, touching on topics ranging from microaggressions and fetishization of bodies, to physical violence and the Atlanta spa shootings.
Many students spoke movingly about things they have experienced in their lives, and also offered concrete suggestions for ways that individuals and the campus community as a whole can be supportive allies.
Some faculty members, representing a range of academic disciplines, also offered thoughts and remarks. There were even a few book recommendations for further reading on the Asian American experience and race and inclusion more broadly, including “Forever Foreigners or Honorary Whites” by Mia Tuan and “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Beverly Daniel Tatum.
At the conclusion of the 90-minute program, President Donald P. Christian, attending in a listening role along with other members of his Cabinet, offered brief closing remarks acknowledging the students’ courage in speaking out and thanking them for hosting this necessary forum.