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Responding to recent reports of a surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the Undergraduate Council unanimously passed legislation Sunday that enables the organization to match student donations to a fundraiser organized by a coalition of Asian American student groups.
Through the legislation, the UC will match student donations of up to $1,000 made to the Harvard Asian American Coalition’s fundraiser, which will allocate funds to national and local organizations committed to supporting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Groups who make up the coalition include Harvard Tapas, the Harvard Asian American Association, and the Harvard Radcliffe Chinese Americans Association.
The UC also endorsed a statement authored by student organizers of the fundraiser condemning anti-Asian hate.
“Asian hate is not a new phenomenon,” the statement reads. “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been combatting vitriol, violence, and xenophobia for as long as we have been in the United States.”
The statement cites a report published by the reporting center Stop AAPI Hate that traced 3,795 anti-Asian hate crimes during the past year. The center also found that women are nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to report attacks than men.
The organizers’ statement also calls on students to take “unequivocal and unrelenting action” in light of last week’s shooting in Atlanta, which included six Asian American women among its casualties.
“Tuesday’s massacre underscores the intersecting systems of white supremacist violence against Asian women, im/migrants, sex workers, and working-class Asians in our communities,” the statement reads.
The legislation was sponsored by Director of Belonging and Inclusion Tarina K. Ahuja ’24, Treasurer Edwin B. "Eddie" Jin ’24, Adams House representative Esther J. Xiang ’23, Crimson Yard representative Shreya P. Nair ’24, and Elm Yard representative Anant P. Rajan ’24.
The Council also endorsed an open letter to the University condemning University President Lawrence S. Bacow’s guidance from an email to affiliates last week responding to the recent surge in anti-Asian hate crimes.
In his email, Bacow referred affiliates to contact the Harvard University Police Department if they are the victim of a “racist attack.”
The legislation allows the Council to sign a student-organized petition that calls Bacow’s advice a “failure.”
“President Bacow used Tuesday’s shootings to validate HUPD’s existence and justify their continued threat of violence,” the letter reads. “HUPD is an unacceptable and harmful remedy to anti-Asian violence in our community.”
The petition cited The Crimson’s 2020 reporting that exposed racist and sexist incidents within the University’s police department spanning the past three decades.
Harvard spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain declined to comment on the UC’s endorsement of the petition.
The legislation, sponsored by Cabot House Representative Brooke L. Livingston ’23, was passed with a vote of 24-0-1.
Also at Sunday’s meeting, the Council endorsed a legal complaint filed last week by Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura T. Healey ’92. The complaint alleges Harvard’s investments in the fossil fuel industry — which amount to less than two percent of the University’s endowment — violate the Massachusetts Uniform Prudential Management of Institutional Funds Act.
Per the legal complaint, the Harvard Corporation — Harvard’s highest governing board — is violating a provision of the Massachusetts law, which states that nonprofits have a duty to make investments with “charitable purposes.”
Harvard spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain declined to comment on the UC's endorsement of the petition.
The legislation was sponsored by Adams House representative Jordan H. Barton ’23, Pfirzheimer House representative Ruy A. Martinez ’22, and Dunster House representative Juan C. Venancio ’23, with “citizen sponsorship” from fossil fuel divestment activists Connor Chung ’23 and Martha J. Denton ’23.
The body also endorsed a joint statement calling on Harvard to designate Election Day as a University holiday. The UC passed a similar piece of legislation in October 2020.
The legislation was sponsored by several house representatives and Lily Richman ’24 and Alexander K. Park ’23, both members of Harvard Votes Challenge, a student organization focused on increasing voter turnout at Harvard.
—Staff writer Lucas J. Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Mayesha R. Soshi can be reached at email@example.com.
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