Thank you so much for arranging the meeting with Dean Khurana last week. We appreciate the candor of Dean Khurana, Officer Catalano, Ms. Margulies, Dr. Counter and Dean Thimba in answering our questions. While our discussion resolved some of our confusion regarding the facts and informed us of steps that were taken to investigate and address the immediate threat of violence on Oct. 3/4, we remain unaware of the basis of the University's determination that the threat was and is not credible given that the perpetrator—who has not been identified and is not in custody—has been engaging in increasingly disturbing behavior since early in the year. We also continue to be extremely concerned about the ongoing lack of communication regarding the incident and the powerful message of silence that is being sent to all members of the University community—students, faculty, staff and alumni alike.
We respectfully request that a University-wide message be sent by you condemning the threats of Oct. 3 that targeted Asians and Asian-Americans and women and outlining Harvard's stance regarding hate crimes. The University's continuing pursuit with law enforcement of the perpetrator, which we hope is vigorous, should also be communicated so that it is known to all affected that the University is seeking justice and protection on their behalf. As Harvard is a world leader in thought and action, we look to you to set a standard for how other Universities and institutions will consider and respond to such actions within their walls. Rather than cause division, condemnations of acts of hate at other schools have fostered understanding, learning and healing.
Furthermore we believe that the University should establish an official policy and procedure for dealing with hate crimes. We realize that Harvard is highly decentralized, but as with sexual assault, this is too important and difficult of an issue for Deans or House Masters to be left to confront on their own in the heat of the moment. Let us make clear, however, that while such incidents should obviously be handled better in the future, the current situation is not at an end and demands a response now.
Our Summit last weekend was another truly moving gathering of 500+ Asian and Asian-American alumni, students, faculty and staff. We thanked you there for your early support and continue to be grateful for your recognition of the significance of cultural bonds in bringing members of the Harvard community together. Our group and the undersigned (as well as others we expect to endorse this letter shortly) exist not only to celebrate what we share but also to safeguard our right to feel safe, to thrive and to be fully empowered at Harvard. We expect the University to confront head-on this despicable act that is an affront not only to those who received the emails, not only to Asians and Asian-Americans and women, but also to every member of the Harvard community and to the values that we believe are at the core of our institution.
Harvard Black Alumni Society
Harvard LGBT Faculty and Staff Association
Asian Coalition for Education (HGSE)
[Email sent to H4A Members on Oct. 23, 2014]
Concerning the Racist Death Threats to Asian Students
Dear H4A Members:
On Oct 3rd and in the days following, hundreds of Harvard Asian and Asian-American students and affiliates, primarily women, were emailed a racist death threat. The author referred to the recipients as "slit eyes" and threatened to come to Harvard to “shoot all of you” and “kill you individually.” A Harvard police spokesperson responded that the threats "may not be credible.” Some students were still receiving emails one week after the threats.