The Asian Faculty and Staff Association at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (AFSA), reaffirms our commitment to supporting and advocating for students, faculty, and staff of the Asian Diaspora as the coronavirus (COVID-19) global health pandemic impacts our community in unique ways.
Members of the Asian, Asian American, and Asian Pacific Islander community have experienced unique vulnerability as targets of racism and xenophobia as anxiety and fear over COVID-19 has spread over the past several months*. Locally, this vulnerability also comes at a time when social support and community comforts have been weakened, whether due to the loss of contact with peers to adhere with the important act of social distancing or closure of community fixtures such as local Asian restaurants and business. In the Milwaukee area, some have been forced to close due to racist attacks on their staff.
In the face of this vulnerability, AFSA resolutely stands in solidarity with UWM students, faculty, and staff against these acts. We support, and will advocate, for:
• A campus and local community that is free of anti-Asian violence and racism,
• Education and empowerment to rise above the rhetoric of anti-Asian sentiment that swirls around the local, national, and global conversations concerning the COVID-19 pandemic,
• An official statement of intolerance of anti-Asian racism and xenophobia from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (including intolerance for derogatory references such as the “Wuhan” or “Chinese” virus, etc.),
• Resources to support students, faculty, and staff members of the Asian and Asian American community directly impacted by racism incited by COVID-19, and
• Equitable treatment of all marginalized communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus.
In addition to rising anti-Asian sentiment, UWM students may face challenges around travel, leading some to remain separated from their families and loved ones overseas or unable to return to the U.S. to complete work related to their degree programs. We reaffirm our support for students impacted by these unique challenges and support the excellent work of various campus partners who provide resources for students in navigating these challenges, including the Center for International Education.
We urge our students, colleagues, and community members at UWM to act with concern and compassion for those who have been directly and indirectly impacted by the COVID-19 virus. We stand in solidarity with those who are working to develop effective medical treatments and methods of curbing the rates of infection and with those working to support diverse communities.
To learn more about coronavirus-related racism and xenophobia, please see this resource compiled by Dr. Jason Oliver Chang. Resources for individuals experiencing acts of violence or harassment can be found at Asian Americans Advancing Justice; their website also contains information about intervening as a bystander. Reports of incidents at UWM can be made through the Equity/Diversity Services office.
* The national clearinghouse “Stop AAPI Hate” has collected 1700 incident reports over six weeks, Asian Pacific Planning & Policy Council.