Top Penn administrators sent an email to the Penn community denouncing rising violence and discrimination against Asians and Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The email, which was sent on Wednesday afternoon by President Amy Gutmann, Provost Wendell Pritchett, and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, emphasized the University’s commitment to providing a supportive environment for Asian and Asian American students, faculty, and staff. Although the email did not address any specific incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes, it was sent the day after a 21-year-old man shot and killed eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent, at two massage parlors in Atlanta and one in the Atlanta suburbs.
Yesterday's incident follows an increase in incidents of discrimination and violence directed against Asians and Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last March, the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned of an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans due to an association between COVID-19 and Asian communities.
Many hate incidents against Asians and Asian Americans have been fueled by political leaders who blame China for the spread of COVID-19. Former President and 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump has frequently referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus” or the "China Virus."
Stop AAPI Hate, a national group that collects information on hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, reported almost 3,800 hate incidents that occurred from March 2020 to February 2021. AAPI women have reported 2.3 times more incidents of violence than AAPI men, according to the report.
University administrators encouraged the Penn community to engage with the Task Force on Supporting Asian and Asian American Students and Scholars, which launched last April and aims to raise awareness about anti-Asian discrimination and provide a safe space for Penn’s Asian and Asian American community through monthly discussion series and restorative healing practice circles.
School of Arts and Sciences Dean Steven J. Fluharty also send an email to students on Thursday morning condemning xenophobia and hatred, and expressing support for AAPI members of the Penn community.
“At this time of great stress for Asian citizens and visitors across the country, we want those of Asian descent who are part of our Penn community to know that we stand strongly and proudly with you,” the Wednesday email read. “We are grateful that you are part of our university community, and we offer our full support at this most difficult and trying time.”