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Sunday, September 26, 2021

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Faculty sign statement supporting AAPI community

<p>&nbsp;Gottwald Center for the Sciences, home to biology, chemistry and physics&nbsp;</p>

 Gottwald Center for the Sciences, home to biology, chemistry and physics 

Nearly 300 faculty, staff and administrators at the University of Richmond signed a statement of solidarity with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community written by Samuel Abrash, professor of chemistry.

Abrash wrote the statement after the series of shootings at three spas on March 16 in Atlanta, Georgia. Of the eight people killed, six were Asian women. 

Abrash was aware of the increasing violence toward Asian people for a long time, he said. 

Although Abrash said he assumed there was support for AAPI students among faculty, staff and administrators, it was important to ensure that everybody in the UR community knew of that support.

A statement created by Sam Abrash, professor of chemistry, that was signed by University of Richmond faculty, staff and administrators. Click to see the full list of signees.

The statement recognizes and condemns the increase in harassment and violence toward the AAPI community, and provides actionable steps to stand up against anti-Asian behavior. 

Abrash's statement invites members of the UR community to educate themselves about the attacks on Asian communities and lists resources such as sources for education about racism toward the AAPI community and groups for AAPI empowerment. The statement encourages faculty to reach out and support those who have been affected.

The statement also includes information about calls for Congress to act by passing two House resolutions that condemn the anti-Asian bias and violence.  

Abrash first spoke with people at his Jewish temple about making a statement in solidarity with the AAPI community because the temple has an active social action group, he said. He asked if he could use a statement his rabbi and the chair of the social action committee wrote and took out references to Judaism to fit a more secular community.

Someone else would have written a statement if he had not, Abrash said. Lauren Tilton, professor of digital humanities in the department of rhetoric and communication studies, along with professors from the American studies department, had been working on a statement at the time Abrash released his statement, he said. 

To Abrash, the most important thing about the statement is the signatures, he said. He changed the original statement into a signature document to show the support on campus, he said.

“I thought in our community, the more people that signed, the more powerful the statement would be because we're trying to give a message to the AAPI community and our Asian international students here about the amount of support they have, but also to the broader community,” Abrash said.

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Contact City & State editor Eileen Pomeroy at eileen.pomeroy@richmond.edu.

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