ASCWU condemns rise in discrimination against Asian Americans

Mitchell Roland, Editor-in-Chief

Due to a rise of racism against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, ASCWU is calling on students, faculty and staff to condemn the discrimination.

Advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate said they’ve received almost 3,000 reported incidents of aggression targeting Asian Americans between March and December of 2020. Washington State University published a study recently in which 30% of respondents said they have experienced discrimination since the beginning of the pandemic.

The ASCWU Board of Directors released a statement on March 1 which said the directors condemn “hate and discrimination against the AAPI community and are calling for CWU faculty, staff, and administration to stand alongside with us.”

“ASCWU is currently lobbying to pass statewide legislation that implements mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion training for all faculty and staff and advocating for the construction of the CWU Center for Cultural Innovation as a safe space for historically marginalized communities,” the statement reads.

Students and faculty are also encouraged to report “any acts of discrimination, racism, or xenophobia on-campus or in the community” through the CWU incident reporting form.

ASCWU President Mickael Candelaria said the statement was in response to an uptick in racism and discrimination towards the Asian American and Pacific Islander community due to COVID-19.

“For whatever reason, a lot of folks have really thought that Asian Americans have brought the COVID-19 virus and started it, and have kind of discriminated against this specific community,” Candelaria said. “A lot of stems from really xenophobic rhetoric.”

Candelaria said the statement is a call to action for “every CWU community member to stand along with us.”

“This is a huge issue that I feel like hasn’t gotten as much awareness as the Black Lives Matter movement, and all of that, so we really want to bring it to attention,” Candelaria said. “Because the biggest virus and disease out there is racism.”

The first Asian or Pacific Islander ASCWU President, Candelaria said it has been challenging at times due to discrimination.

“Because I’m part of that community, oftentimes I get really scared and nervous,” Candelaria said. “I’m fortunate enough to not have had a direct attack or a direct situation in Ellensburg, but I know I get looks, I get stares, I get ‘do you speak English?’ everywhere in the community.”

Candelaria said that Asian Americans “often times get swept under the rug because of the whole model minority myth.” But, Candelaria said the discrimination remains.

“The community has always been kind of silent, and non-vocal, about some of the issues against their own community,” Candelaria said. “So I think that model minority myth comes from the fact that there is a large percentage of Asian Americans that are well off, in that middle-class range.”

Candelaria said the Diversity and Equity are available for students to discuss the experiences they feel comfortable sharing. ASCWU has worked with counseling services and the diversity and equity center to create a virtual healing space for students.

Candelaria said it is also important to hold yourself, and those around you, accountable if you hear a slur or a xenophobic remark.

“Call them out, hold them accountable,” Candelaria said. “Also hold yourself accountable, educate yourself.”

Candelaria does not recommend approaching Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders about their experiences, as this can be “really emotionally draining for them to talk about.” If someone wants to talk about their experiences, Candelaria said they should be the one to bring up the topic.