Sunday, October 09, 2005

Clarififying what this blog is

FOR THE RECORD: Drew Lane and Mike Clark of the "Drew and Mike Show" on WRIF 101.1FM did NOT mock the alleged victims of the hate crime, as was wrongly reported by another blog. The "me solly, me no speakee Chinee" comment was NOT made by the hosts. It was an audio "drop" taken from a television show played during a report about American relations with China. The hosts made no comments during the report of the alleged hate crime, and the only drop played during this segment was "I must go toilet." We apologize for re-posting the report with the incorrect information and will corroberate such reports in the future prior to posting.

FOR THE RECORD: This blog is not the official home of any organization or campaign. It posts views of all kinds regarding the alleged hate crime at the University of Michigan. The owners of this blog did not call for any boycott of WRIF, nor did they make any demands upon the Drew and Mike Show. The only organized call ever issued by UM students, faculty or organizations called for WRIF to release the transcript of the show in question and meet with community representatives to discuss their concerns.

FOR THE RECORD: This blog was not started and is not owned by any faculty member at the University of Michigan. Scott Kurashige asked for temporary access to the blog in order to correct erroneous information about Drew and Mike, remove a link to the blog that posted the original story, and write a letter of apology to Drew and Mike. Since the show has acknowledged receiving this letter, his reason for posting it has now expired.

For a representative list of statements by fans of the Drew and Mike show challenging the original story that we reposted from another blog and have since retracted, please see the comments.

Please see the top of this page for guidelines on further usage of this blog. Thanks to all who have participated.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Life Goes On

Everything that has transpired in the past few weeks has made me realize: life goes on.

If you've been following this story, it's progressed something like this ...

Two Asian American students accused two Caucasian students of urinating on them and yelling racist remarks in the ensuing confrontation.

As the police investigated, the story broke in The Michigan Daily.

Several student organizations and faculty took action. Petitions and letters were written. Meetings were called. Campus dialogues about race and racism were established. This blog was created.

In the week following the allegation, friends of the accused sent their side of the story, defending the accused. It was beer, not urin, they said. And they apologized, tried to avoid confrontation but the Asian students persisted to push. Comments like "Learn to speak English" were exchanged, but nothing "serious."

President Mary Sue Coleman sent a letter to all students recognizing the issues of tolerance and understanding. To date, the University has taken no action beyond this letter.

The accused still stand accused. There is little information available about the progress of the investigation.

Some other media outlets have picked up the story.

The Drew and Mike radio show mentioned the story, and in their "normal" line of humor, played audio clips from TV shows like "me no speekee Chinee" which some interpret to be offensive and racist and others interpret to be funny and harmless. Initial reports of racist remarks made directly by Drew and Mike were recorded on this blog. As it turns out, Drew and Mike did not make racist remarks; they simply played their audio clips.

Drew and Mike encouraged their listeners to post comments to this blog. While some comments were well thought out, many were short, pointed attacks that were blatantly racist and homophobic.

So here we stand today. Several weeks after the allegation with no publicized progress for the investigation. Instead, we have over 2,000 signitures on the petition sent to Mary Sue Coleman, several news articles written about the incident, increased awareness and dialogue amongst students on campus, and a stack of comments that were deleted from a blog that remind me of how hurtful this society can be.

But ... life goes on. I go to class every day, eat three meals a day, rotate from the Brown Jug to charlies to Studio 4, go to bed, wake up, post on this blog occasionally ...

But the difference is, I know about everything that I've posted on this blog. I've spent countless hours thinking about why things like this happen, if I'm overly sensitive, and why some people feel like I should "go back to my country." After all, I am American, as American as you are ... and you have no more right to claim your right as an American than I do ... but why don't I ever think to ask you to "go back to your country?"

The allegations, true or not, have been a catalyst for many students to speak out about racism and discrimination in their own lives. In my time at the U, I've been called a chink, gook, chinaman, ching chong cheeky choo. I've been torn down by drunk people, sober people, people just driving by. "Funny" jokes seem less and less funny each time I hear them ...

So life goes on ... but that doesn't mean that life is the same ... nor does it mean that everything is OK ...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Update on Drew and Mike Show

Recent postings have raised concerns about WRIF's "Drew and Mike" Show playing the audio clip "Me sollee, me no speakee Chinee" during a discussion about US companies outsourcing jobs to China and "I must go toilet" during a discussion of the alleged urination hate crime at U of M. These concerns have been conveyed to WRIF management, which has agreed in principle to a meeting with Asian American community representatives. These community representatives now believe:

1) WRIF now has an opportunity to resolve concerns about the approriateness of these audio clips.

2) Many fans of Drew and Mike make a distinction between what the hosts say and what audio clips get played on the show. But it should be clear that posts here were critical of "Drew and Mike" (a composite media personality created by the hosts and producers of the show). Personally, Drew Lane and Mike Clark may be swell guys--only their personal friends and family would know. The "Drew and Mike" Show aired the "me no speakee Chinee" and "toilet" jokes. That is the principal concern. If Drew Lane and Mike Clark want to engage in a serious discussion of the alleged hate crime at U of M, they can now state their personal views.

3) This blog welcomes legitimate opinions about this situation from a variety of perspectives. However, a number of anonymous posters wrote violent, racist and/or homophobic comments. These are being archived and deleted. The offensive postings will be available for those wishing to use them in anti-oppression education.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Michigan Public Radio Coverage

Michigan Public Radio – Jack Lessenbery Show: “The look of racial intimidation today”

Download the audio clip; Interview of Denny Chan, United Asian American Organizations, External Chair

Come Together

>From the Daily: Come together

Student orgs must unite to fight racism
October 03, 2005

The alleged hate crime against two University students of Asian descent three weeks ago has sparked passionate outcry from the Asian community.
Although it is still unclear whether the suspects are guilty of urinating on an Asian couple and subjecting them to racial harassment, the incident has put the spotlight on the taboo topic of ethnic intimidation and the extent to which such occurrences go unreported. The University proudly claims to be a pillar of racial diversity, but it is disturbingly clear that racial and ethnic tensions still run high on campus. The University needs to reevaluate its policies and strategies to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all its students.

Marginalized minority groups too often feel that they stand alone in combating discrimination directed toward their own members. But fighting racism is not just the responsibility of those directly targeted prejudice and intolerance are campus-wide issues, and therefore it will take University action and collaboration among student organizations to fight them.

The University needs to develop a more comprehensive strategy to combat racial stereotyping and discrimination that addresses the root of the problem. MSA considered charging the Department of Public Safety with recording bias incidents, which can take on forms such as hate speech. DPS can be effective in handling hate crimes, but it is hardly an effective means for tackling the issues of racism and intolerance in which such incidents are rooted. Historically, the University has struggled with using enforcement to handle ethnic intimidation; once even going so far as to craft a speech code intended to protect students by prohibiting hate speech on campus. The code infringed on students freedom of speech, however, and in Doe v. University of Michigan, the a U.S. district court found it unconstitutional. DPS was not designed to monitor the opinions no matter how offensive of college students. Instead, the University should use education and encourage inter-student dialogue to eliminate racism and intolerance from campus.

It is also the responsibility of students to collectively promote an anti-discriminatory environment. The response to the alleged incidents should not emanate solely from the Asian community, but from all students.
While it is encouraging that groups like the NAACP have been discussing the incident internally, it is time for them to follow up with a public statement to show their solidarity with the Asian community. A more formal collaboration between the Asian community and other minority groups is necessary to demonstrate that stereotyping and intolerance directed at any group will not be tolerated. It is imperative that these alliances integrate people from all cultural, religious and sexual orientations, not just ethnic minorities. A multidimensional alliance would demonstrate that intolerance is not unique to any particular minority group; support that reaches across community lines is needed to change attitudes on campus and ensure unyielding opposition toward discrimination.

The widely publicized response of the Asian community has been instrumental in encouraging victims of discrimination to speak out, but has also shed light on the improvements that must be made to combat prejudice. While the Supreme Court upheld the Universitys use of affirmative action in its admission process, administrators must ensure that diversity goes deeper than enrollment statistics. DPS cannot eradicate bigotry through bias incident reports. More practical and proactive measures need to be taken. Students need to demonstrate a united response to a problem that is not unique to any particular group, but is fundamentally a University issue.

The Hush Phenomenon

Mara Gay: The hush phenomenon

By Mara Gay: Common Sense
October 03, 2005

Michigans football season is OK too, but theres nothing quite like a series of racist and homophobic incidents to kick off the start of the school year and get your blood flowing.

First to make headlines was that still murky episode in which an Asian couple alleged they were urinated on and verbally assaulted with racial epithets. The Asian communitys response to this bizarre and disturbing event has been loud and visible, and rightly so.

Next, a shooting took place at a black fraternity house, and the description of the perpetrator given by police aroused anger throughout much of the campuss black community, inspiring the Black Student Union to hold a town hall meeting to discuss ways to fight racial profiling and devise more precise methods of identifying suspects.

Finally there was Conservative Coming Out Day, that miserable analogy that had the audacity to suggest that conservative students face as much discrimination expressing their views at Michigan as gay, lesbian or transgender students do coming out of the closet. The sentiment was neither correct nor clever students whose sexual orientations fly in the face of traditional values face discrimination that is unparalleled in our modern times those who write off the event as a simple joke should ask themselves if there is indeed anyone laughing.

Sadly, these incidents are nowhere near out of the ordinary a few conversations with students who belong to a minority or marginalized group will convince anyone that incidents of bias and intolerance are as frequent as they are underreported. Michigan is, after all, a school that trumpets diversity but festers with unresolved tensions of racial and other bigoted origins. Among those who pay attention, these events failed to arouse much astonishment at all.

What is shocking is the silence. What is shocking is that in the midst of a monster they know all too well, not one minority group has taken it upon itself to stand up and condemn intolerance, no matter who its target may be. Instead, they have sat by complacently, content to watch their fellow students suffer from the same ignorance, the same bigotry, the same hatred that makes discrimination an everyday reality at the University.

This hush phenomenon, this refusal to denounce that which we know is inherently unjust, is perhaps our greatest missed opportunity. By standing together in solidarity students of marginalized groups can offer the greater community a valuable piece of wisdom: the understanding that intolerance is not an Asian problem or a gay problem or a black problem, but a University problem.

Coalition building is, of course, easier said than done. Different minority groups face different challenges at the University. Black students, for instance, whose academic competency is constantly under attack, may have difficulty understanding why the model minority stereotype that all Asians are intellectual powerhouses is a problem at all. Gay, lesbian and transgender students may find it hard to relate to the experience of people of color at the University. It is only when we see, however, that these stereotypes and misconceptions are derived out of the same well of ignorance that we can begin to build coalitions.

For minorities, each day brings with it a fresh battle for acceptance at the University. But there can be no progress until an attack against one is seen as an attack against all. There can be no victory declared, for example, in the black community, as long as its Asian peers are forced to walk the streets of Ann Arbor wondering if they too will be urinated on and verbally assaulted.

The student minority groups that watch their peers suffer from bigotry and do and say nothing are guilty of a callous cowardice. But equally disturbing is the vast number of socially and politically active student groups at the University unaffiliated with a specific minority group that remain silent in the face of the discrimination against others. The Michigan Student Assembly must do more to encourage these groups to take on an active role in the fight against intolerance. It must be understood that these issues affect every student at the University, regardless of skin color or sexual orientation, religion or political persuasion.

It is time to make some noise, rock some boats and get this show on the road. As students at the University, it is within our power to create a new definition of minority for tomorrow, drawing on our collective strengths and making a united front against ignorance and racism, homophobia and intolerance, wherever they may be found.

The hush phenomenon gnaws at the humanity of those who subscribe to its unapologetic indifference. Dante once wrote, The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of great moral crisis, maintain their own neutrality.

What happened in September was shameful. But October can be the month students take a stand against wrong; it can be that decisive moment when we sat down at the table and made a commitment to make the University a better place. And if we believe even a little in the school we love, the change must start today.

Some Student Letters to the Daily

Sept 29

Asian Americans need more productive activism

To the Daily:

My name is Haosi Wu. Wow, that sounds Asian. But I guess if you assume that I’m Asian, you must be some sort of racist. Seriously, let’s gain some perspective here. There is no question that certain faculty members and Asian-American advocacy groups have used this incident to promote a wider agenda. What’s lost in the whole debacle is the fact that the suspects haven’t even been arraigned yet. Racism toward Asian Americans like myself probably does exist, but it is nowhere near as frequent as many would have you believe. The overwhelming majority of whites on this campus are tolerant and open toward Asians. To make blanket statements about how racism is somehow rampant is to indirectly condemn all whites. In order for Asians to truly engage in substantive dialogue, we have to look at our own prejudices. Let’s not kid ourselves when we see Asians intentionally segregating themselves. Instead of trying to condemn whites, let’s try to establish a dialogue that is truly inclusive because at the end of the day, we are all Americans.

Haosi Wu

LSA junior

Sept 28

Daily drops the ball on Trotter House event

To the Daily:

I have to admit that I nearly skipped Monday’s town hall meeting at Trotter House about the recent incident involving students of Asian descent. I’d spilt some coffee on my sweatshirt and, I was afraid I’d look like Pigpen. In the end, I did attend.

I wasn’t disappointed. There was general agreement that the details of the incident were murky. It provided an opportunity to talk about a pattern of quiet racism, though. Students, alumni and faculty had the chance to come together and talk about ways to celebrate diversity and strengthen networks. It was inspiring to see how an ugly incident could mobilize students into positive action.

I’m especially glad I attended, now, because nary a mention of the meeting made it into Tuesday’s Daily.

Don’t get me wrong — topics like the extravagance of grass (The clover’s greener on the other side, 09/27/2005) and the aerodynamics of the Big House (Researchers, students test wind currents in stadium, 09/27/2005) are newsworthy, I guess. I’d like to believe that campus responses to important recent events are also worth noting.

The feeling exists among many that the University turns a blind eye to issues involving Asian-Americans. The Daily’s omission of Monday’s town hall meeting only adds to that impression.

Kurt Christensen

School of Public Health

Asians face discrimination on a daily basis on campus

To the Daily:

I have been closely following the Daily’s coverage of the racist incident that occurred two weeks ago, and as an member of the Asian Pacific Islander American community on campus, I am concerned that it took an incident of this nature to mobilize the APIA community and its allies to action.

Having said that, a catalyst is sometimes needed, but I feel that the more the Daily and others on campus focus on this particular episode, the more disappointed I am. It is true that there is controversy regarding the exact details of that Thursday evening, and although it is important for the sake of justice that the investigation examines all sides of the story, this has transformed into more than just one evening. Underneath it all, APIAs — and perhaps people in other communities as well — have gotten stuck in this state of complacency. This movement on campus is not solely in reaction to Thursday, but also for every single time APIAs are stopped on the street and complimented on their English, asked if they can show off kung fu moves or my personal favorite, if I am related to Jackie Chan.

The fact that the Daily gets so caught up in the details of this one incident speaks to the insensitivity the Daily has regarding issues of multiculturalism and race in its reporting. Perhaps the Daily should report more on the growing campus response and mobilization, instead of the tiny details of one incident.
Unfortunately, some details may not be as important as others; In Suspects dispute hate crime (09/26/2005), Stephanie Kao is misidentified as president of United Asian American Organizations when she actually serves as co-chair.
(Editor’s Note: Please see “Corrections,” 09/27/2005.)

Mobilization of the APIA community is not enough to fight the ignorance that prevails everyday. The administration must join us on this journey; issuing an e-mail without any clear timetables or courses of action is not enough. If the administration does not take a strong stance soon, I fear that acts of hate will only be perpetuated, for it sends a message to students that hate is okay.

Therefore, I call on all members of the University — APIAs, University President Mary Sue Coleman and other administrators, the staff of the Daily and members of other communities — to unite with us in this movement. We may not see the fruits of our labor in our time here, but if successful, future Wolverines will feel them for many years to come.

Denny Chan

LSA sophomore

Sept 27

University must not tolerate racism

To the Daily:

I decided to use my precious time to write this letter after reading Monday’s Daily (Suspects dispute hate crime, 09/26/05). Firstly, it amused me that the 20-year-old suspect, who was clearly underaged, was playing beer pong and knowingly drinking. And the fact that he knew he was going to get a minor-in-possession was even more hilarious. Secondly, I do not know whether the urination took place or any racial slurs were used, but these two students might have been drunk; I do not know if I would buy their words. Anyway, I will leave this case to the authorities. But if they are found guilty, they should not represent the University. Nothing short of an expulsion from the University should be tolerated.

Assuming this case was indeed a racially motivated assault, it is just one of the thousands that happen to minorities. I personally have experienced many of these, being called names such as Ching Chong, Wing Wong Wang or Fresh Off the Boat by both drunk and sober people in Ann Arbor. There are Asians out there who think that I’m overreacting to the incident. There are some minorities that are unwilling to stand up for their rights. But for me, it’s time to change. Of all places, discrimination in any forms should not happen at this university.

Should we question our own curriculum? How much has the race and ethnicity requirement helped students to understand and live with each other without bias and prejudice? Is the University’s admission policy really effective in creating an environment where diversity triumphs? Or are we just embracing the term “diversity” without understanding it?

Chin-Swan Liew

LSA senior

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Alumni Letter Sent to President Coleman

October 1, 2005

President Mary Sue Coleman
University of Michigan
Office of the President
503 Thompson St.
2074 Fleming Administration Building
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1340

Dear President Mary Sue Coleman,

We, the undersigned Asian Pacific American (APA) alumni from the University of Michigan, are outraged at the September 15th incident of ethnic intimidation, which targeted two Asian students on campus[1]. We are dismayed at the delayed and inadequate response from your administration regarding the incident.

As former students, each of us can speak to the shared experience of racism and ignorance we had experienced as APAs on campus. Racial slurs and seemingly benign comments on our ethnicity became commonplace, the “norm” for APA student life. During our years at the University of Michigan, some of us were working arduously as student leaders to identify resources for APAs and other students of color, in order to improve the climate on campus. In 2000, the U.S. Department of Justice pointed to a University of Michigan policy[2] that was created as a model for preventing hate crimes. This policy is a bold step, however we have seen nothing to support that an actual work plan has been implemented. We understand that change takes time, but were often frustrated at the poor response and lack of transparency and follow up from the administration toward the identified needs of our community. Had there been the adequate resources, staff, and institutional support to create a safe space for students of color, the APA community would not have continued to feel so marginalized and insignificant. Had the University had a true commitment to cultivating a culture of inclusiveness and respect for diversity, such incidents of hate could have been prevented.

As alumni, we are disappointed to see students having to face the same struggles that we faced and had lobbied the administration to pay greater attention to in the past. The September 15th incident and subsequent poor accountability from the University administration is evidence that the state of affairs has not changed much. We request that you immediately and aggressively work to better understand the needs of APAs and other students of color at the University of Michigan, and that you work alongside members of the community (as determined by the APA student community) to identify the necessary resources to improve the quality of student life and learning at the University of Michigan. We urge you to not only speak of the University’s commitment to diversity, but to act upon it as well.

Asian Pacific American Alumni
University of Michigan

The undersigned,
Rena Agarwal, Class of 2004

Geri Alumit, Class of 1992

Amna Abkar, Class of 2004, JD

Gaurav Budhrani, Class of 2004

Charlene Bugais, Class of 2004

Christine Catalan, Class of 2005

Nancy Cha, Class of 2000

Stephanie Chang, Class of 2005

Wen M. Chao, Class of 1995

Karen Chen, Class of 2004

Sandy Chien, Class of 2005

Ann Cho, Class of 1991

Suzy Choi, Class of 2001

Tammy Chu, Class of 2002

Chrissy Cheung, Class of 2001

Jeanette Cruz, Class of 2001

Catherine Dacpano, Class of 2002

Ha-Hoa Dang, Class of 2002

Sumon Dantiki, Class of 2004

Siddharth Desai, Class of 1999

Stefanie Dioso, Class of 2004

Shana Fu, Class of 2004

Monica Garg, Class of 2003

Cesar Herrera, Class of 2003

Roselle Herrera, Class of 2001

Sana Hong, Class of 2003

Monica M. Hou, Class of 2002

Harry D. Hsing, Class of 2000

Matthew K. Huang, Class of 2002

Joe Hsu

Dennis Hsu, Class of 2002, BA; Class of 2006, MBA

Gaurav Jashnani, Class of 2003

Bernice Jung, Class of 1993

Esther Kim, Class of 1996

Esther Kim, Class of 2002

Gene Kim, Class of 1991

Jamie Kim, Class of 2004

Jane S. Kim, Class of 2000

Jennifer Kim, Class of 2005

Jessica JiYoung Kim, Class of 2002

Min Jung Kim, Class of 1996

Sharon Kim, Class of 2003

Rebecca J. Kinney, Class of 2001

Avani Kothary, Class of 2004

Jay Kwah, Class of 2002

Jess Kwok, Class of '03

Eric Lai, Class of 2001

Ijun Lai, Class of 2003

James Lee, Class of 2005

Marcia Lee, Class of 2005

Mimi Lee, Class of 2004

Patty Lee, Class of 1998

Ursula Liang, Class of 1996

Amy Liao, Class of 2005

Leslie Liao, Class of 2001

Nhi Lieu, Class of 2004

Michelle Lin, Class of 2003

Elaine Liu, Class of 2003

Richard Lo, Class of 2005

Lisa Lu, Class of 2005

Roseanna Magat, Class of 2002

Karlo Marcelo, Class of 2005, MPP

Grace Meng, Class of 1997

Jennifer Mizusawa, Class of 2003

Jeff Mutuc, Class of 2005

Teresa Nam, Class of 1991

Daniel Om, Class of 2002

Kenneth R. Ong, Class of 1972

Amit Pandya, Class of 2001

Rupal Patel, Class of 2001

Rushika Patel, Class of 2000

Sejal Patel, Class of 2001

Chau M. Phan, Class of 1999

Michael Reyes, Class of 2004

Sujeet Rao, Class of 2004

Yena Ryu, Class of 2003

Rahul Saksena, Class of 2004

Monica Seth, Class of 2003

Arpita Shah, Class of 2001

Karishma Shah, Class of 2002

Naweed Sikora, Class of 2004

Jung-in Soh, Class of 2005

Leena Soman, Class of 2002

Doug Song, Class of 1996

Linh Song, Class of 1998, BA; Class of 2001, MSW

Steven Song, Class of 2004

Alice Kim Switzer, Class of 1991

Jessica Tang, Class of 2004

Cuong Trinh, Class of 2003

Dr. Marie P. Ting, Class of 1993, BA; Class of 1998, MA

Roger Toguchi, Class of 2001

Vivian Tseng, Class of 2001

Sabrina Van, Class of 2004

Scott Velasquez, Class of 2004

Frances Wang, Class of 1991, MA

Sonjae Whang, Class of 1993, BS; Class of 1994, MS

Isra Wongsarnpigoon, Class of 1995

Steven Wu, Class of 2001

Rhea Yap, Class of 2003

David Yeh, Class of 2002

Jessica Yu, Class of 2004

Michael Yu, Class of 2001

Diana Yuen, Class of 2003


[2] This prevention model could not be found on the University of Michigan’s website.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Michigan Daily Follow-up Article

True or not, alleged bias incident inflames

By Carissa Miller, Daily Staff Reporter
September 29, 2005

On one of his first days at the University, LSA junior Andrew Guzman was called a chink.

I was offended because first of all, Im not Chinese, and he was utterly racist against me, Guzman said.

At a party, a student asked LSA sophomore Denny Chan, Are you related to Jackie Chan?

Whether being asked Can you teach me karate? or called Chinaman, dozens of other Asian students can testify to enduring similar acts at the University.

But enough is enough.

In the past weeks, student organizations on campus have mobilized in response to an alleged incident of ethnic intimidation, recently called into doubt, in which two University students were reported to have verbally harassed and urinated on two Asian students.

Regardless of whether the official investigation proves or disproves the incident, many Asian students are using the incident to highlight what they say is a campus climate that condones ethnic discrimination and intimidation.

At an Asian and Pacific Islander Americans town hall meeting Monday, students said the incident, now in dispute, is just one example of the types of situations Asian students and faculty face daily. At least 50 Asian students attended the meeting and most said theyve encountered racial harassment at the University before.

Some said they receive it frequently. And many students arent entirely sure why they are targets.

But overall, whether because of fear or complacency, students at the meeting said they have kept the encounters to themselves.

Guzman, president of the Filipino American Student Association, said one reason Asians might be easy targets is because members of Asian communities are often seen as quiet, nonconfrontational and hesitant to defend themselves.

There is the view that we will take things no matter what happens and not do anything about it, Guzman said. People think they can get away with it.
A lot of people also think certain comments arent necessarily racist or derogatory.

Guzman added that the model minority stereotype influences the treatment many Asians receive.

There is a strong belief that discrimination doesnt happen to Asian Americans. No one views us as a minority, Guzman said. And even in that sense, having that stereotype (of the model minority) is discriminatory in itself because it does not take into account peoples different experiences in life and with discrimination.

Some Asian students, such as LSA sophomore and United Asian American Organizations external chair Denny Chan, say they believe this lack of recognition as a minority group also impacts the frequency at which incidents of ethnic intimidation and discrimination are reported.

There is the feeling that your concern might be shrugged off, Chan said.
And when you experience (discrimination) alone, you dont have the realization that its so frequent.

When these things happen to you, there is also confusion around what avenues there are that you can take, Chan continued. Many (Asians) dont know about existing services. We need to create a safe zone so students feel comfortable reporting.

While Asian organizations continue to discuss the reasons for the prevalence of racial harassment on the campus, the groups have also begun to take actions to create awareness of the issue.

After the alleged incident of ethnic intimidation on Sept. 15, Asian student groups founded APIA Change, a group that is trying to devise ways to improve the campus climate. Recently, APIA Change has begun cataloguing incidents of racial harassment toward Asians. But leaders of the group hope the University will aid them in taking a strong stance against racial harassment.

There is no clear signal to offenders that this must stop that this is wrong, Chan added. The administration hasnt sent this clear message, so its just going to continue.

Guzman said that, while the underlying point is that discrimination has always existed with regards to Asians, it is interesting that it took a publicized incident to spark debate and discussion.

In my view, (Asians) as a whole are not a very united group, and unless you have a huge mobilization, a small minority is often viewed as being radical or whiny, Guzman said. But now that group is getting larger, and people are starting to take notice. As a community, we need to educate, strengthen and empower ourselves.

Of course this isnt just an issue limited to the campus, said Stephanie Kao, a Business senior and co-chair of the United Asian American Organizations. However, the kind of support we get and the kind of climate set up by the administration doesnt support diversity as much as they would like to believe.

While there are people in the Asian community who would stress assimilation and say these issues arent relevant, it all depends on how you look at it, Kao said.

Kao said that although views differ on the issue, as in any minority community, the issues raised by this incident pose important questions.

Why is it important to fit into the society? Kao said. Why cant we be unique with our culture and our heritage?

Michigan Daily Article RE: President Coleman Response

Coleman: Campus has much to learn

By Carissa Miller, Daily Staff Reporter
September 29, 2005

In light of the greater recognition of racial harassment on campus due to recent events, students are questioning whether the Universitys goal of diversity has been effective in fostering a campus climate of tolerance.

University President Mary Sue Coleman said that regardless of Sept. 15s alleged felony of ethnic intimidation, the incident has provided an opportunity for the entire campus community to reflect upon and address the issues surrounding racial harassment at the University.

My feeling is the University is working hard, Coleman said. But one of the things we sometimes forget is that every year we have thousands of new students who come to us who may not understand what we expect.

Coleman speculated that acts of disrespect and discrimination toward Asian students might occur because most students who come to the University have had little interaction with people of other cultures. According to data that the University has, many students come from segregated communities.

Coleman cited other possible factors including peer pressure and lack of knowledge of other cultures.

It is possible that some people dont realize they are being offensive when they say something, she said.

Coleman added that while she feels there are structures in place to enable students to experience other cultures and races such as the race and ethnicity class requirement the University cannot force people to interact with people from different backgrounds.

(With this incident), we are reminded that many community members experience bias and dont report it, so there isnt full comprehension of what is going on, said University spokeswoman Julie Peterson.

Peterson said the University wants to establish clear guidelines to ensure that students know how to report incidents of ethnic intimidation and discrimination. Other plans include a campaign addressing hate-related incidents, Peterson said.

There are a lot of good efforts in place to address race relations and bias issues in general, Peterson said, but we can always do more.

University faculty are also joining in the effort to improve the climate of the campus for students, faculty and staff susceptible to racial harassment.

American Culture Prof. Amy Stillman who contributed to a letter in which faculty members demanded the University uphold its commitment to diversity by taking immediate action is working to organize a collective response to the issue of hate crimes.

Stillman outlined several steps that students and faculty should take to combat the occurrence of hate crimes and create a more respectable climate. These recommendations include encouraging students to report racial harassment to the Department of Public Safety and the Office of Student Conflict and Resolution. A public rally on campus involving multiple student groups is also in works.

We need to talk to our colleagues and draw them into the coalition with us, Stillman said. This issue of climate is something that affects all of us, and (the faculty) have the opportunity to be the leaders.

At a large institution like the University of Michigan, some Asian students feel they have to put up with minor indignities in order to fit in, said Scott Kurashige, assistant professor in the Asian and Pacific Islander American Studies department.

Kurashige added that while the University has great potential for cultural programming, it needs to take proactive steps to make comprehensive changes to eliminate racism. His department is holding a teach-in today at
7 p.m. in South Quads Yuri Kochiyama lounge.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Letter of Support from Former Law School Professor

Dear Members of the Michigan United Asian American Organizations:

I was saddened by news of the events reported in the September 21, 2005 Michigan Daily. I am heartened, however, by your efforts to use this incident as a creative opportunity for collective introspection and action.

I spent eight years on the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School (1995-2003). Like most members of the faculty, I am a white male. My partner of fourteen years, however, is Cambodian, so I am probably more sensitive to these issues than many. In your effort to document and better understand the educational environment at Michigan, I offer some of my own experiences.

At one point, I was directing the Law & Economic Workshop.
The Workshop brings in outside speakers and entails organizing a lunch and dinner for the speaker. The tradition was to have lunch at the Saigon Garden. One tenured colleague would repeatedly object to the location. Without any appreciation for how outrageous his comments were, he would explain that he loved his dogs and that the Vietnamese ate dogs. Since the Vietnamese supposedly ate dogs, he did not want to eat at the Saigon Garden.

At one level, this may just be an isolated incident of someone being culturally insensitive. It was perhaps particularly insensitive because of its failure to appreciate and honor the significance of my own family situation. The fact that the incident was repeated after gentle and not so gentle efforts to educate him as to how inappropriate his behavior was suggests some of the difficulties in addressing ingrained aspects of discrimination.

More troubling may be the fact that many other colleagues simply did not “get it” when I relayed the story. Similar disparaging comments made about African, Jewish or Irish Americans would have engendered a very different reaction. Many people (including educated faculty members at elite law schools) do not even know enough to know when they are making insensitive and inappropriate comments regarding Asian Americans.

The marginalization of the Asian experience and of Asian Americans is reflected in other aspects of the institution. The Law School’s Center for International & Comparative law has a distinctly Eurocentric focus. To its credit, Japan and China have long traditions at Michigan Law, but they are not afforded equal status. Other Asian countries are not even on the radar screen. My arguments that any serious study of comparative constitutional law would have to include a country like India fell largely on deaf ears. A country like Cambodia was viewed as an opportunity for student social work, but not worthy of serious academic study.

During my time on the faculty, there were no tenured or tenure-track Asian faculty members. A number of distinguished Asian American legal scholars, who were off-the-charts good, spent time as “Visiting” faculty members, but were not accorded the serious consideration they deserved. At the same time, white scholars (also eminently qualified) who spoke
Japanese or Chinese were viewed as strategic opportunities.

These are complicated questions and there are no easy answers. The point is not to cast aspersions, but to take opportunities like this to raise awareness and identify larger patterns within the institution that call for greater reflection and potential future action.

I wish you well in this important undertaking.


Peter J. Hammer