Responding to Anti-Asian Sentiment During the Coronavirus Pandemic

July 22, 2020

To members of the MIT community,

As communities worldwide respond to the threat and impact of the coronavirus, reports of anti-Asian harassment have been on the rise. The MIT Institute Community & Equity Office (ICEO) and the Asian Pacific American Employee Resource Group (APA-ERG) and its executive sponsor, Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson, with the support of the Office of the Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, the Graduate Student Council’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee (GSC DEI), and the Asian American Initiative (AAI), stand in solidarity with members of the Asian and Asian American community who have been the targets of racism and xenophobia.

A few anti-Asian bias incidents have been reported to the GSC DEI, and these are unacceptable. The small number of reports does not indicate a relative absence of cases, since hate crimes and bias incidents are often underreported. As Massachusetts and other states begin to reopen, concerns for the welfare of Asians and Asian Americans have been raised. In the Greater Boston region and across the country, essential Asian Pacific American (APA) health care workers and other individuals have reported experiencing verbal and physically violent attacks. Members of the MIT APA community have expressed concerns for their personal safety.

Along with our gratitude for all health care workers, our colleagues at MIT who are devising Covid-19 solutions in their labs, and our colleagues who have facilitated the donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals, we offer our heartfelt support to all Asians and Asian Americans who have faced harassment, including those who are members of our Institute community – our students, postdocs, staff, and faculty.

Hate has no place here at MIT. The MIT community has rallied together even as we have become far-flung and physically distanced, showing strength, innovation, and compassion in an unprecedented time of crisis.


A Cultural Shift to Challenge Beliefs and Biases About Asians Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic

We are calling for a cultural shift that depends on individuals challenging their own beliefs and biases. Fears of associating with Asians due to the coronavirus are rooted in broad generalizations about their numerous cultures, in particular the Chinese, and a history of stereotypes and misunderstandings.

These resources may be helpful to learn about stereotypes, how to reduce stigma, and the history of anti-Asian sentiment and discrimination in the United States:


“I also hope we can be sensitive to each other’s burdens in this situation and make accommodations when we can. And I count on every member of our community to make sure that the discrimination, shunning and bullying that sometimes accompany an outbreak never occur at MIT.”

- President L. Rafael Reif

March 5, 2020


What follows are avenues for reporting hate crimes, and both on-campus and external resources if you have been the victim of an attack or have concerns about possible attacks.


Reporting Anti-Asian Harassment During the Coronavirus Pandemic

If you have been attacked on the MIT campus, please contact the MIT Police at (617) 253-1212. You should also report this incident with the Institute Discrimination & Harassment Response Office at Some people wonder whether they should report cases that are not physically violent – there is no case too minor to report.

Reporting hate crimes increases our awareness and helps us to focus and allocate community resources toward prevention and response. Here are some organizations that are tracking anti-Asian attacks:


Resources at MIT


External Resources


Supported/Signed by,


Asian Pacific American (APA-ERG) Employee Resource Group

Asian American Initiative (AAI)

Graduate Student Council’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee

Undergraduate Association

John Dozier, Institute Community and Equity Officer

Tim Jamison, Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity

Suzy Nelson, Executive Sponsor, APA-ERG, and Vice President and Dean for Student Life