Update & Next Steps Regarding Anti-Asian Messages at Oxy


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

Dear Oxy Students, Staff, and Faculty:

I write to update you on recent developments since my last message on Friday and highlight the concrete action steps we are taking to help us address the community harm and move forward together.

Through emails, as well as through difficult and extremely candid conversations, you have shared the frustration, anger, and disappointment you feel in reaction to the racist text messages and our administrative response. The text messages reflect racism and ignorance, perpetuating hatred for Asians and Asian Americans and promoting the erroneous and harmful perception that the pandemic is a “Chinese mistake.” The student who sent the messages has expressed remorse and regret for her actions, and is no longer enrolled at Oxy.

Regardless, the impact of our response has compounded the community harm, which was certainly not our intention. And for this we apologize. I recognize that these last few days for many, particularly our international Asian and Asian American students, faculty and staff have been so painful and that sharing this anger (with one another, with me and senior staff) has in itself been no small burden. I am grateful for conversations thus far with students (including APIDAA and international Chinese students), Faculty Council, and ASOC among others. Listening is a crucial step to action.

Our priority now is to support the community’s immediate needs and enable our campus to become an educational environment where all can be safe, seen, supported and thrive. The actions below reflect the valuable insights and suggestions from faculty, staff and students, as well as the ongoing efforts of the college leadership. 

To provide immediate support, we will:

  • Convene a facilitated forum, a listening session, in which all community members who wish can express their concerns on this incident and be heard, to be held later this week.

  • Provide counselor-led group sessions for students coping with the impacts of anti-Asian hate and racial trauma. We will include a session specifically for international Asian students.

  • Hold restorative spaces to provide an opportunity for members of the College community to speak, listen, and be in community with each other.

    • Feb. 11 REHS, ORSL and Emmons are holding space for APIDA students, 4:00 to 5:15 pm in the ICC backyard. Emmons Counseling plans to have a counselor present for additional support.

    • Feb. 14 REHS, ORSL and Emmons are holding space for all students, 4 to 5:15 pm in the ICC backyard. Emmons Counseling plans to have a counselor present for additional support.

    • Additional events are being planned.

  • Form an ad hoc committee to respond to all DHR complaints relating to this incident, given the large number of complaints received in the last week and broad impact on the community.

  • Provide a two-hour, interactive anti-racism workshop focused on supporting Asian and Asian-American community members, open to the entire campus community; the workshop will be offered on February 23rd, and will be facilitated by an Asian-identified diversity practitioner.

  • Offer a series of additional anti-bias and cultural competency workshops for students, faculty, and staff, beginning with the anti-racism workshop and offered throughout the rest of the semester.

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

  • Work with the faculty to implement some of their academically-oriented proposals, as appropriate for an institution of higher education. 

To build the foundations to evolve our community culture, we will:

  • Hire a JEID Education Specialist, with the search to begin immediately, who will develop and implement a comprehensive program for professional development and other learning opportunities for faculty and staff (including administrators).

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Use a stronger equity lens for official communications to better understand the impact of these messages before sending 

This list is the beginning, not the end of our efforts. Further details on the actions listed above will be coming from various administrative offices. We will continue to work with students, faculty, and staff and keep you apprised.

Sincerely,

President Harry Elam