SSMU STATEMENT CONDEMNING ANTI-ASIAN RACISM AND VIOLENCE
SSMU Executive Committee, Legislative Council, and Board of Directors
Content Warning: anti-Asian racism, murder. We encourage you to prioritize your mental and emotional wellbeing as you choose how you want to engage with this statement.
Dear SSMU Members,
On April 8, 2021, the SSMU Legislative Council approved the Motion Condemning Systemic Anti-Asian Racism and Violence. This motion, ratified by the SSMU Board of Directors via email approval, mandates the SSMU Executive Committee to release a public statement outlining the SSMU’s position regarding anti-Asian racism.
The SSMU reasserts its unequivocal position in solidarity with and support of Asian students at McGill and communities of Asian descent as a whole. Further, we wholeheartedly and unconditionally condemn any and all forms of anti-Asian racism, and recognize the distinct and systemic nature of anti-Asian racism in western society.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, racism and oppression towards the Asian community within North America has been exacerbated, especially towards people of South East and East Asian descent. Within Canada, the discrimination that people of Asian descent face has significantly increased throughout the past year, with over 1000 incidents of anti-Asian violence being reported through various online platforms. According to a September 2020 report of the Chinese Canadian National Council, there were more hate crimes per capita against people of Asian descent during the pandemic in Canada than in the US. In Montreal, as elsewhere, people of Asian descent have been physically and verbally assaulted, and Asian-owned organizations and cultural locations have been targeted for vandalism and defacement, with five times more anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020 than in 2019.
This year of intense racial trauma for people of Asian descent was recently compounded by two vicious attacks in the United States. On March 16, 2021, a white man committed a mass shooting at three massage parlours in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, killing eight people (8) – Xiaojie Tan, Yong Ae Yue, Suncha Kim, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Ashley Yaun, and Paul Andre Michels – six of whom were women of Asian descent. On March 29, 2021, Vilma Kari, a 65-year-old Filipino woman, was brutally assaulted by a man in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, USA, who yelled racial slurs as he attacked her. We stand with members of the McGill community in mourning these lives as well as the countless other victims of hate crimes not covered by the media. These horrific acts reflect the much broader and pervasive issue of systemic anti-Asian racism and racial misogyny that permeates western society, including Canada and McGill.
With McGill calling on students to return to campus for the Fall 2021 semester, the administration’s lack of action to address anti-Asian racism is egregious. It is time for McGill to begin taking concrete steps to confront the glaring issues faced against its communities of Asian descent. We support the recent calls for the university to expand on its stated commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion by recognizing the distinctness of systemic anti-Asian racism – especially in a university context – and developing a formal action plan to address the concerns of its students.
We recognize that SSMU is also complicit in this system. A statement is not nearly enough, and we must do more to support peoples and communities of Asian descent at McGill. To that end, the Legislative Council has mandated the Office of the Vice-President (External Affairs) to support political campaigns against anti-Asian racism. While this work has long occurred, particularly since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this mandate will formally extend the priority into the coming Executive term. We continue to advocate for a more robust Policy on Harassment and Discrimination at the university, and internally, the SSMU Equity Policy is undergoing substantive revision to make complaints processes more straightforward.
Lastly, we would like to highlight the work of several student groups and organisations at the forefront of raising awareness about and combating systemic anti-Asian racism, including the Pan-Asian Collective (PAC), the McGill Chinese Students’ Society (MCSS), and the Groupe d’entraide contre le racisme envers les Asiatiques au Québec (GECREAQ).
The Students’ Society of McGill University
Here are some institutional mechanisms for reporting and disclosure within student associations and at McGill University:
- SSMU Equity Policy and SSMU Equity Commissioners
- McGill University Policy on Harassment and Discrimination Prohibited by Law
- SSMU Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy
- MCSS (Macdonald Campus Students’ Society) Equity Policy
- MCSS (Macdonald Campus Students’ Society) Equity Commissioner
- McGill University Policy Against Sexual Violence
Here are some local resources for equity and support for people of Asian descent:
- SSMU Equity Committee
- PGSS Equity and Diversity Committee
- A resource list shared by the Pan-Asian Collective
- Groupe d’Entraide Contre le Racisme Envers les Asiatiques au Québec – a Facebook group for mutual aid and information sharing for people of Asian descent in Quebec
Below is a list of mental health resources at McGill and in Montreal:
- Keep.meSAFE, 24/7 access to licensed counsellors available to all McGill students
- Peer Support Centre at McGill
- McGill Students’ Nightline
- Tel-Aide: 514-935-1101
- Crisis Text Line: Text ‘CONNECT’ to 686-868
- Suicide Action Montreal: 1-866-277-3553
- Centre for Gender Advocacy Peer Support Line: 514-848-2424 x7880
- Trans Lifeline: 877-330-6366
- Interligne: 514-866-0103 (Toll-free/text messaging: 1-888-505-1010)
- Project 10: 514-989-4585