Standing Against Anti-Asian Racism

March 18, 2021

We want to share with the RSEA community these messages from FAS Dean Claudine Gay and GSAS Dean Emma Dench:

Dear FAS Community,

Many of us woke up yesterday to the horrific news of the vicious and deadly attack in Atlanta, the latest in a wave of increasing violence targeting the Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander community. After a year of unprecedented loss and trauma, it stuns me to silence to witness once again how misplaced fears and prejudice can be weaponized to wreak havoc in our time. My heart breaks for the families and friends who lost loved ones on Tuesday night, and for the millions in the AAPI community who don’t feel safe today because of the possibility of racist violence, and the ongoing scapegoating that fuels it.

This violence has a history. From Chinese Exclusion to the nativist rhetoric amplified during the pandemic, anti-Asian hostility has deep roots in American culture, and remains an ever-present threat to the safety and well-being of family and friends, neighbors and colleagues, regardless of citizenship. As a society it is past time to reckon with a history that has denied Asian-Americans the respect and dignity that is a shared birthright. Until we confront it, and until we commit to the necessary work of repair, we will never achieve the promise of a more perfect union.

Our institutional commitment to truth and the advancement of knowledge means we have a role to play in fighting the false narratives that drive racist violence. We stand in solidarity with the members of the AAPI community here at Harvard and across the nation, and we recognize that this struggle belongs to all of us.


Claudine Gay

Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences



Dear GSAS Students,

It is appalling that during the greatest public health emergency the world has faced since the 1918 Influenza pandemic, many in the United States have decided to turn to false narratives and the hate they engender by attacking Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders. Whether they take the shape of physical violence, verbal harassment, or silent gestures, these acts diminish us as a nation.

Harvard is not immune to this flawed rhetoric, and I believe it is important to reaffirm GSAS’s commitment to creating an inclusive community free from harassment and discrimination. Every member of our community—students, faculty, and staff—deserves to thrive. Harassment of any kind has no place here.

We have a responsibility to condemn the horrible actions against the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community, to counter them, and to support one another. By doing this, by joining together, we send a message that hate is not welcome here.

With all best wishes,
Emma Dench
Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences