In the wake of the violent attacks in Atlanta

March 17, 2021

Dear Students,

I wrote to you just weeks ago regarding the rise of violence against Asians and Asian Americans, and the need to stand together in the face of hatred. It is with a heavy heart that I write today in the wake of targeted attacks in the Atlanta area. Eight people have lost their lives, including seven women, six of whom were identified as Asian.

While the motivations of the attacker are not yet fully known, we have seen a steady increase of acts of aggression and hateful rhetoric against members of the Asian community in the United States throughout this past year, rooted in false perceptions about the COVID-19 pandemic. It builds on a history in this country of xenophobia aimed at Asians and Asian Americans. I am also mindful that violence against women remains a serious issue, and that evidence shows that Asian women have been disproportionately targeted in reported bias incidents.  

At Columbia, one of our greatest assets is our globally diverse community. Together we must uphold our shared values, particularly those of respect and the recognition of each of our fundamental worth. We will continue to denounce bias and bigotry in all forms and support each other, as a community.

I know for many of us this tragic news provokes anger and also anxiety. Please know you are not alone. There are many resources available to you, including counseling and psychological services through Columbia Health on Morningside or Student Health on Haven at CUIMC. You may also seek additional support through Religious Life or your Dean of Students.  If you, or someone you know, has experienced bias, you can also report it to the University or contact your Dean of Students.  

I am also available, and you can reach me by emailing universitylife@columbia.edu.

Take care,

Joseph Defraine Greenwell
Vice President for Student Affairs
Office of University Life
Gender Pronouns: He/Him/His