Students Organize Discussion in Response to Racist Graffiti


Students sang “Part of Your World” during a flash mob in response to the racist incident. 

Karen Zhang, Maroon-News Staff

Students responded to an anti-Asian racial slur found on a door decoration belonging to two Chinese students with an open meeting on Wednesday, March 28. The event was co-sponsored by the Organization of Asian Sisters in Solidarity (OASIS) and Colgate International Community (CIC) at the Center of Women Studies. Seniors Woohee Kim and Wanying Yang as well as sophomore Jiayi Li led the meeting  and encouraged students to share their encounters with racial discrimination on campus, as well as affirmed the meeting as a place for solidarity.

“This is not an issue that only affects international students or Asian students on campus. It is an issue that affects all of us in many different ways,” Yang said.

Several students explained their experiences encountering microaggressions on campus. Many felt there is a culture at Colgate of tolerating racism and the actions taken by Colgate administration to combat this problem are insufficient. 

Owner of N13, alumnus Scott Williams ’80, also expressed his frustration with the incident.

“I was shocked, appalled and hurt. I still want to tell all students that you have the power to express your ideas and ask for change. You have the support from us,” Williams said.

Other students suggested this incident is significant because it provides hard evidence that racism exists on campus. They demanded that police investigate the incident to find the perpetrator of racial discrimination.

Students also discussed the steps that need to be taken in order to bring about changes for Colgate as an institution. A few students suggested a space for international students on campus, arguing that international students need a space to stand in solidarity. Some students questioned the lack of diversity on campus and asked for an increase in the percentage of non-white students in the admission process. 

Several students criticized the Eurocentric core curriculum at Colgate, especially Legacies of the Ancient World and Challenges of Modernity. They requested the incorporation of more non-western texts in the curriculum.

Other students suggested that Orientation should include education on the diversity of students to let domestic students know that they should expect to meet and respect people who are different from them on campus.

At the end of the meeting, senior Chi Tran demanded Colgate make it mandatory for domestic students to come to meetings like this one.

“My questions to you guys, and to Dean McLoughlin, is that how many more gatherings, how many more talks do we have to do to stop this? I’m sure we see the same faces going to these events. We should not be the number one audience for this. It’s everyone else that’s outside this room right now who should be listening to these stories. Is there any way we can bring this to the entire campus and have everyone listening?” Tran said.

Dean McLoughlin responded by offering his apology to students who experience racial discrimination on campus and pointing out the difficulty to enforce mandatory meetings on campus.

“As a new member of the community, I also feel upset with the incident. But there is no way to require a mandatory meeting in an institution like Colgate. We can encourage people and there are ways to increase the audience. We have many white students at this meeting, and this is the image that we need to remember. We want people to know that there are a lot of administration members here. We are supporting you,” McLoughin said.

First-year Yang Zhang expressed her disappointment with the incident.

“I have never felt that I am labeled as people of color until this incident happened. I am especially sorry for the Asian Americans who need to fight against racial discrimination in their whole life,” Zhang said.

In addition to the meeting, a flash mob took place at the O’Connor Campus Center on Friday, March 30. Five students sang the song “Part of Your World” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid with adapted lyrics in response to the racial discrimination incident. Many students shed tears after the powerful performance. Sophomore Haoqi Xia shared his motivation for organizing this event.

“‘Part of Your World’ is such a familiar tone, and performing it would be a gentle but powerful way to get the audience’s attention. Performing arts also gives us license to speak up. Some people might take it as ‘theater’ theater, but some might see as a reflection of reality and future. Either way, we reached them, so did our voice. Our goal was to inform, to question and to suggest,” Xia said.

Contact Karen Zhang at [email protected]