You are here: American University Campus Life Addressing Xenophobia

American University

March 26, 2020

Dear AU family,

I hope you are managing to find some solace and connection amidst the many challenges of this time. Over the past week, I’ve been touched by our community members who have reached out from across the country and around the world to share their experiences. Though we continue to hear many stories of hope, I am writing today to address one extremely disturbing trend related to COVID-19.

Throughout the US and across the globe, there has been a sharp rise in xenophobia and racism against people of Asian descent, related to the virus’s origin in China. This follows on the heels of several years of increased hate crimes and bias incidents. It also builds on a problematic global history of racializing disease that has produced immense harm, especially for Chinese and other Asian American communities.

It is in this context that I feel compelled to speak out. Anti-Asian bias and discrimination, as well as racism of any kind, is both wrong and dangerous. We know that this pandemic is global, and it has impacted the lives of people regardless of nationality, race, class, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, or age. Words and actions that unfairly target our Asian and Asian American communities can make people feel unwelcome and unsafe in places where they should feel a sense of community and belonging. Racist behaviors can also discourage people in need from seeking medical care due to concerns about stigma or discrimination.

As a community, we will continue to ensure that our curriculum, policies, and programs reflect our values of inclusivity and respect. Our AU commitments to uphold human dignity and combat hate in all forms will guide and ground us as we make challenging decisions during this time and beyond. We encourage our community to use inclusive language to discuss COVID-19 with each other, our families, and our friends to increase everyone’s health, safety, and sense of belonging.  

Please also know that we are here for you. Students can reach out to the Dean of Students Office with concerns impacting academic life ( The Kay Spiritual Life Center ( and its chaplains are available for students and all members of the AU community. Staff and faculty can also reach out to Dale Rampell, Faculty Staff Assistance Program ( Faculty are also encouraged to contact Dean of Faculty Mary Clark ( with any questions or concerns.

I am proud of our AU community, and how we have come together to support each other in ways big and small. I know we will continue to stand together with our Asian and Asian American classmates, colleagues and community members. We must remember just how interconnected and interdependent we are as human beings. Let us be sure to reach out and take care of each other during moments like these, and always.

With gratitude,

Fanta Aw
Vice President of Campus Life& Inclusive Excellence
American University