The rise of violence against Asian Americans recently has been a concerning issue across the nation. In fact, the number of hate crime cases against Asian Americans in major cities have increased 150% compared to the previous year.
On March 16, 2021, another tragedy struck this country in Atlanta, Georgia, where eight people, including six Asian American women, were shot and killed. This case is only one of many racially based hate crimes that have occurred over and over again, which clearly proves the prevalence of discrimination and racism in the United States, not only for Asian Americans, but also for other minority groups, such as African Americans and Latinos.
As a USC student, one has many opportunities to either contribute to raising awareness about the discrimination happening recently, to try to prevent future cases or even to report the cases one has experienced or seen firsthand.
Firstly, you can join a minority-based organization on-campus.
As the vice president of the Indonesian Student Organization on campus, it is easy for me to say these minority-based organizations provide a lot of cultural exchange events that will enrich one’s knowledge on diversity and inclusion.
At the same time, they provide an opportunity for students to befriend people from minority groups and learn more in order to raise awareness on cultural differences that one might have and, by proxy, to then learn to be more understanding and tolerant to these communities.
There is a saying from the Indonesian language that states “tak kenal maka tak sayang,” which literally means, “not knowing, hence do not care."
By knowing and understanding people from minority groups, one can be more thoughtful, understanding and caring toward them, preventing you from intentionally or unintentionally discriminating against someone.
Secondly, one can capitalize on USC's Equal Opportunity Programs as a campus resource for students to report, raise awareness and investigate occurrences of discrimination happening on-campus.
Equal Opportunity Programs are an essential resource for students that must be utilized when students and faculty members are committed to fighting discrimination.
By working together and cooperating with this essential program on campus, progress can be made through not only statements, but also action.
Under Anti-Discrimination Policies and Services, USC's website states, “The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities on the basis of race, sex, gender, gender identity, transgender status, age, color, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, genetics, protected veteran status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.”
Through collaboration with the Equal Opportunity Program, it is time for students to execute anti-discrimination initiatives based on university policies and ensure the university is taking the right steps to abolish any kind of de facto and de jure discrimination happening on campus.
Thirdly, students, mainly student leaders, can actively reach out to minority groups to incorporate their needs and interests when making policies with the university or creating campus financial budgets.
The third step is equally as important as the first two steps, as the involvement of campus leadership toward minority groups can create a more understanding situation of one another. Eventually, this will result in the ability to create more inclusive policies and campus initiatives that cater to all interests.
To achieve the ideal situation of understanding one another, Student Government and student senate must be able to cater more to the interests of minority groups.
As one of the highest tiers of student leadership on campus, Student Government's voice really matters, which means that it would be consequential for the university’s diversity progress if it expressed minority concerns more vocally.
These steps, in combination, must be maximized to fight racism and discrimination on-campus. Racism and discrimination have no place at USC and, therefore, must be fought together.