Monday, October 03, 2005

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

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