University community condemns uptick in anti-Asian violence across NYC

The Student Government Assembly held a processing space after seven students — three of whom were Asian — were assaulted on campus last month.


Over 100 people joined a virtual event called by the NYU student government to address recent anti-Asian hate crimes. New York City is experiencing a spike in racially motivated hate crimes. (Image via NYU Student Government event)

Isabella Tapia, Contributing Writer

More than 100 members of the NYU community attended a university event to protest the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City on Wednesday, March 23. The event, hosted by NYU’s student government, followed a string of assaults on seven students — at least three of whom were Asian — on campus in February.

Hate crimes against Asian people rose by 339% nationwide from 2020 to 2021. The New York City Police Department reported a 361% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City. Rafael Rodriguez, associate vice president and dean of students at NYU, opened the university event by acknowledging the impact of the rise in hate crimes against Asian members of the NYU community.

“I’ve heard from countless students over the past several weeks, staff members, from colleagues, they reflect upon, who are worried, afraid and at times feeling vulnerable,” Rodriguez said. “As an NYU community, when people are hurting, we owe it to each other to step up and to take action.” 

The first speaker at the event, senator at-large for women of color JiJi Lee, spoke about the precautions Asian members of the NYU community have taken in response to the uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes. She shared her experience of harassment on the subway and noted how common such incidents have become.

“I had so many hopes and dreams coming into the city and to have such a devastating encounter really ruined my confidence,” Lee said. “So many members of Asian community have to live in fear of leaving their doors, holding pepper spray in our hands, hiding behind staircases in the subway stations, checking our clocks to see when the train is coming.”

Megan Chen, the senator at-large for Asian students and mental health, then led a discussion about the NYU community’s support for Asian students and faculty members. She challenged the university to continue to rally behind the Asian community and speak out against the recent violence across the city.

“It’s pretty baffling to need a town hall to remind everyone that this is wrong, that anti-Asian violence is wrong and that hate crimes and all forms are wrong,” Chen said. “It’s really now more important than ever to hold each other accountable in our respective communities and to make sure that other marginalized groups are not being demeaned and discriminated against, that we need to put API back into the racial discourse, that we see Asians not as a model minority, not as almost-whites, but as people of color.”

Chen signed a student government statement demanding that the university recognize the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes on campus. The statement also calls on NYU to inform the community of attacks more quickly, label such incidents as hate crimes and encourage the use of the Bias Response Line. It requests the expansion of routes for NYU Safe Ride, which allows students to request a free car ride between NYU buildings starting at midnight. 

Towards the end of the event, Dean Itsuji Saranillio, the interim director of the Asian/Pacific/American Institute, said that most hate crimes targeting Asian NYU community members have gone unreported. Three of the victims of the recent attacks on campus allege that Campus Safety mishandled their incidents.

“These recent attacks on our students are unacceptable and intolerable,” Saranillio said. “This is a moment I’m so grateful for, so many of the students that speak out so courageously because it really tells us that we’re in a different moment and that we are fed up.”

The Student Government Assembly also held a listening space for students to share their experiences relating to hate crimes on Thursday, March 24. The A/P/A Institute will hold another event for Asian students to discuss their experiences at NYU in mid-April.

Contact Isabella Tapia at [email protected].