Responding to Anti-Asian Messages at Oxy

A summary of Oxy’s response to recent social media posts containing anti-Asian racist speech and the concrete action steps being taken to address the community harm. See below for the latest updates from President Elam and other key messages from College staff.

President Elam has condemned the text messages as being antithetical to Oxy’s values. The hateful anti-Asian speech they contained is extremely damaging and hurtful to our community. It undermines and contradicts what we stand for as an institution. Although the College was constrained in its ability to impose discipline in this case, it can and will take steps to address the harms caused to Asian and Asian American students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni and the Oxy community as a whole, as outlined in President Elam’s February 8 update to campus. In the coming weeks, we will continue to listen to the community and develop and share additional information about supportive measures, programming and education. At the same time, based on this incident and feedback received from the community, we are examining our own internal policies and procedures to consider how we can address such incidents in the future consistent with Oxy values. (Updated 2/10/22)

Update: Steps Taken Since Feb. 8 Community Letter

See what the administration has done to follow up on the commitments made to the community. (Updated 6/16/22)

Recap: What Happened

The text messages that sparked this incident when they were shared widely on social media on February 2 were originally sent in a private exchange between two non-Asian students in late 2020. The messages were eventually shared with others, who then reported them to College staff in November 2021. The College conducted an assessment of whether the conduct constituted a potential violation of Oxy’s Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation (DHR) Policy. In evaluating the reported messages, the College considered multiple factors, including the nature and timing of the conduct, the racial identity of the sender and recipient, the context of the conduct (e.g. private v. public), the requests of those who reported the messages to the College, and whether there was a risk of physical harm to any individual or group. Considering these factors, and the free speech protections afforded to students in disciplinary proceedings, the College determined these messages were not subject to discipline under the DHR Policy and state law, and also found they did not contain a credible threat of violence.

Community Resources

Reporting Resources
Related Offices & On-Campus Support
Other Resources

Related Events

Restorative Space for Students from the Asian Diaspora

Friday, February 11, 4:00-5:15 pm | ICC Backyard
REHS, ORSL, IPO, and Emmons will be holding space for students from the Asian diaspora in the ICC backyard. Emmons Counseling plans to have a counselor present for additional support.

Restorative Space for All Students

Monday, February 14, 4:00-5:15 pm | ICC Backyard
REHS, ORSL, IPO and Emmons will be holding space for all students in the ICC backyard. Emmons Counseling plans to have a counselor present for additional support.

Community-Wide Listening Session

Monday, February 14, 5:30-7:00 pm | Rush Gym
A community-wide listening session for students, faculty and staff.

Counselor-Facilitated Groups

Friday, February 18 | ICC Backyard
In response to and in recognition of the need to provide a community space for students, therapists Denise Lin and Charles Zeng will be holding a discussion space for addressing the hate incident and the campus response. This is a space for international students (facilitation in Mandarin), Asian and Asian-American identified students, and any Oxy student to come together and collectively share and process their experiences. 
11am-12:30pm: for Asian-identified students
1pm-2:30pm: for Chinese international students (in Mandarin)
3pm-4:30pm: for all students

Interactive Anti-Racism Workshop - Disrupting Anti-Asian Bias: Standing in Solidarity with East Asian People

Wednesday, February 23, 4 pm | Zoom (registration required)
A two-hour interactive workshop open to the entire campus community that will encourage cross-racial allyship and equip participants with strategies that can help disrupt anti-Asian hate and xenophobia directed at Asian communities. The discussion will also focus on acknowledging and understanding Asian identity and history in the U.S. The workshop will be facilitated by an Asian-identified diversity practitioner.

Additional events and actions to be announced.

Update: Steps Taken Since Feb. 8 Community Letter (updated June 2022)

Objective Status
Convene a facilitated forum, a listening session. Forum faciliated by CCEJ held on February 14, 2022.
Provide counselor led group sessions, including sessions focused on supporting both Asian American students and international Asian students. These sessions were held on February 18, 2022.
Hold restorative spaces - Feb. 11 and Feb. 14.

These restorative spaces were held as planned.

Hold additional restorative spaces events as referenced in the email.

Because we heard consistent community feedback against holding additional sessions, we did not hold additional sessions.

Form an ad hoc committee to respond to all DHR complaints relating to this incident.

The Civil Rights & Title IX Coordinator convened an ad hoc committee to respond to all DHR complaints relating to the anti-Asian text messages that were circulated widely in early February. Most/all of the complaints received pertained to how the situation was handled or described the impact the incident had (on the person filing the complaint or on others). Committee members were able to have conversations with most people that contacted various offices in February with their concerns as to how the situation was being handled or describing the impact the incident had on them or others.

Provide a two-hour, interactive anti-racism workshop focused on supporting Asian and Asian American community members - Feb. 23.

This workshop was held as scheduled.

Offer a series of additional anti-bias and cultural competency workshops for students, faculty and staff.

The Office of Equity & Justice partnered with the Center for Teaching Excellence to provide cultural competency learning opportunities for faculty through partnerships with organizations such as Academic Impressions, ESCALA, and LACRELA. Specific offices on campus have also expanded their anti-bias and cultural competency learning opportunities for staff through partnerships with organizations such as Right to Be. With respect to programs for students, the Office of Equity & Justice continues to partner with ICC and SLICE to assess programs currently provided and identify gaps to address with future programming.

Offer a facilitated discussion on the legal framework associated with harassment, the Leonard Law, and protected and unprotected speech in higher education.

This event will take place in September 2022, as part of our annual programming related to Constitution Day.

Work with the faculty to implement some of their academically-oriented proposals.

The faculty has begun conversations regarding curricular responses and developments.

Hire a JEID Education Specialist.

This position was posted in April 2022. A search committee was formed with representation from across the College including three students. We have received a diverse pool of highly qualified applicants, and the search process is underway with anticipated appointment in Summer 2022.

Expand anti-racist education as part of the required New Student Orientation, beginning with the class matriculating in August 2022.

SLICE continues to adjust and improve New Student Orientation based on both student feedback and evolving trends and student needs. For students matriculating in fall 2022, Slice has partnered with The Office of Equity & Justice, ICC, ORSL, REHS, and other offices on campus to include several new programs related to JEID, and anti-racism in particular, expanding on the Equity & Justice Day that has been part of the schedule for a couple of years.

Incorporate anti-racist and other JEID education into required training for O-Team, RAs, student organization leaders, student athletes, and students participating in Greek life.

SLICE, ICC, REHS, and Athletics, in consultation with the Office of Equity & Justice, will expand existing programs and trainings realted to JEID and anti-racism in particular, for O-Team, RAs, athletes, and student leaders.

Support ICC and IPO in identifying support systems and programming for international students, fostering more connections and helping international students integrate into the life of the College and the student body.

ICC and IPO regularly partner to provide support and programming for international students, to foster their sense of connection and integration into the life of the College. ICC and IPO will continue to explore this, particularly with respect to Asian international students given the current national climate, and seek adiminstration's support as needed.

Use a stronger equity lens for official communications.

Senior Staff, led by the Vice President for Equity & Justice and the Office of Marketing and Communications, has and will continue to develop processes to ensure future communications reflect a stronger equity lens.

Messages from the College

February 10, 2022

An update on the community convening we had planned to hold this week.

February 9, 2022

In light of recent hate speech, a summary of what Campus Safety is doing and can do to create and support a safe environment for all.

February 8, 2022

An update from President Elam on recent developments and concrete action steps being taken to address the community harm and move forward together.

February 3, 2022

A follow-up from President Elam regarding recent social media posts containing racist speech.

February 3, 2022

A response to recent social media posts that contain racist speech.