Univ. responds to Atlanta shootings

The university released a statement in response to the deadly shootings at Asian spas in Atlanta, calling March 16 “a new horrifying low,” in an email sent by Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Mark Brimhall-Vargas, on March 17. The response follows three shootings in three different locations across Georgia on Tuesday, March 16. 


“Over the past year, we have witnessed a disturbing increase in the number of attacks and hate crimes in the U.S. directed at people who are Asian or of Asian descent,” highlighted Brimhall-Vargas. According to research done by Stop AAPI Hate, there have been close to four thousand anti-Asian hate incidents over the course of the pandemic, 68 percent of which targeted Asian women. 


Brimhall-Vargas encouraged students to attend the Brandeis Asian American Students Association’s (BAASA) event, “Anti-Asian Racism and Envisioning Safety in our Communities,” to discuss “this disturbing rise in violence and engage with one another on how we can act in solidarity to oppose violence.” For those that are unable to join the event live or for those that would like further information before attending, Brimhall-Vargas recommend the following resources compiled by the organizers of the event.

Brimhall-Vargas acknowledged how “deeply upsetting” the occurrences are to members of the Brandeis community and how difficult it is to feel supported during these times. Quoting President Ron Liebowitz, he condemned the actions of Robert Aaron Long, as well as others who discriminate against others based on their race or background. “We mourn the loss of their lives, and are outraged by the fact that their intersecting identities may have rendered them especially vulnerable in our society,” wrote Brimhall-Vargas. 

Brimhall-Vargas encouraged witnesses or victims of violence to utilize Brandeis resources for support, including the Brandeis Counseling Center, the Gender and Sexuality Center, the Intercultural Center as well as the Center for Spiritual Life.  

On March 1, alumni and students sent a letter to Liebowitz which encouraged him to “make a statement to stand in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community,” according to a previous Hoot article. Liebowitz responded with a community-wide email the following day condemning violence and encouraging students to support the AAPI community. 
According to a CNN article, these shootings have fatally injured eight people, the majority of whom were Asian women. Specifically, four women were of Korean descent, as was confirmed by a statement from the South Korean Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, March 17, according to an AP News article. Hours after the shootings took place, a 21-year-old man was taken into custody as the primary suspect. This man, who is the current suspect as of the writing of this article, is Robert Aaron Long, who “did take responsibility for the shootings,” according to Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.

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