A response to recent social media posts that contain racist speech.
Yesterday, I and other members of senior staff became aware of recent social media posts that are circulating text messages that were sent by an Oxy student last year that contain racist speech targeting Asians.
Hateful speech such as this is extremely damaging and hurtful to our community. It undermines and contradicts what we stand for as an institution. And, certainly, it can make people feel unsafe. Anti-Asian speech is particularly damaging given the rise in anti-Asian violence across the U.S. and the world. This context is compounded by other violence like the on-going bomb threats at HBCU institutions across the country, and the recent terrorist act and hate crimes at the synagogue in Texas. These are all examples of the intolerance and hate-fueled division that permeates our current climate in the U.S. and in the world. We know that the statements in the recent text messages here on campus add to that context and have caused anger and pain for many people in our community. We denounce these statements as false and contrary to the values we share and that are embodied in Oxy's mission. I know that these may be only words in an email, but I write them because, as we have seen, words have power.
While inconsistent with the College’s values, the speech in these text messages does not fall within the definition of unlawful harassment or discrimination under applicable law or Oxy's Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation policy. And, as offensive as these messages are, they qualify as protected speech under College policy and state law.
We know that this kind of incident, and the limitations of law and policy, can cause serious concern, anger, and need for support. Throughout the day, I communicated and worked closely with several people and offices across campus, including the President, the Civil Rights and Title IX Office, the Dean of Students Office, the Intercultural Community Center, the International Programs Office, and Emmons Counseling. These offices are working to provide support and resources directly to students affected by this incident. Additional resources on actions against racism and Asian hate that we can all take as individuals and as a community can be found on the Stop AAPI Hate Coalition website. We also want to remind students of the supports and resources that are available to you on campus. These include:
- Emmons Counseling
- Dean of Students Office
- Office of Student Conduct - you can report a potential violation of student conduct
- Intercultural Community Center
- International Programs Office
- Civil Rights & Title IX Office - you can report a potential incident of discrimination or harassment
- Office of Equity & Justice
I will continue to partner with offices across campus, particularly those in Student Affairs, to determine how we can best provide both education and support for students and other community members affected by this incident. I have office hours today if you would like to connect with me directly; here is the link to sign up: Office Hours for Spring '22 - Thursdays 1:15-2:45pm, or you are welcome to stop by the Office of Equity & Justice in AGC 108.
In solidarity with the community,