Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 12, 2024

In an email sent to the Hopkins community on Sept. 3, University leadership informed the community of an assault against an Asian American student that occurred on Sept. 2. The victim was pushed to the ground and was, along with her companion, subjected to violent anti-Asian language. According to the email, the perpetrator was detained but not arrested and appeared to be having a behavioral health crisis. 

In an email to The News-Letter, Director of Media Relations Jill Rosen stated the incident was reported to the Baltimore Police Department, and the University offered support to the individuals impacted, including filing a report to the Office of Institutional Equity. According to her, the incident was not referred to the University’s Behavioral Health Crisis Support Team, which is not yet operating.

This incident is the most recent among other anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination in Baltimore. In May 2021, a man was arrested after attacking two elderly Korean women and was indicted on 22 charges, including hate crimes and attempted murder

A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) survey revealed that 40 hate crimes were reported in Maryland in 2020, up from 19 in 2019. Incidents were reported by 14 police departments, including those of both Baltimore City and Baltimore County. In April 2021, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced the creation of an Asian American hate-crime workgroup to combat the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.

Sophomore Kobi Khong reflected on how there seems to be a lack of action from the University in an email to The News-Letter. 

“I’m fearful of how normalized these types of attacks are and how nonchalantly they’re being addressed,” Khong wrote. “I also feel exhausted, how many emails have we seen, and compared to that how many changes have occurred? How many times do we have to feel sad, scared, and angry before things will change?”

Vice Provost for Student Health & Well-Being Kevin Shollenberger, Chief Diversity Officer Katrina Caldwell and Vice Provost for Institutional Equity Shanon Shumpert sent an email to the Hopkins community addressing the incident on Sept. 4. In the email, the University leaders reiterated the University’s condemnation of violence against Asians and Asian Americans from last March. 

Filipino Students Association IAC Representative Sensei Silab echoed Khong’s statement in an email to The News-Letter.

“There's a tendency for the university to treat these hate incidents as a ‘once in a blue moon’ type of thing because we hear of it once through email and then go about our day, but I don't think these should be treated like passing concerns,” Silab wrote. “It does happen. We just don't hear about it.”

This rise in hate crimes is representative of an uptick in discrimination against Asian Americans on a national scale, including the March 2021 Atlanta shootings which left six Asian women dead. Students have previously voiced concern for the safety of the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American community and the need for the University to take action and stand in solidarity with the community. 

While the recent email reiterated the institution’s no-tolerance policy toward violence of any sort as well as its commitment to fostering diversity, students believe it lacked policy changes that would promote the safety of the Hopkins community and beyond. 

Silab felt that the University provided resources without offering any long term resolutions.

“I feel scared and disturbed if I'm being honest... Emails were sent out to express the university's opposition to this and they always end with providing resources for students who are affected, but it all sounds so passing which is sad because hate crimes are probably prevalent on university grounds,“ Silab wrote.

Khong shared Silab’s sentiment, echoing that the University’s safety reminder made him feel like the motivation behind the incident was being ignored. 

“In the alert email from Campus Security, they included a section at the end, ‘As a reminder, numerous transportation options are available... including Blue Jay Nite Ride and several shuttle routes. For more information and safety tips, please visit the Public Safety website,’“ Khong wrote. “It felt insulting, as if the student had taken the shuttle then they wouldn’t have been targeted for being Asian.”

In an interview with The News-Letter, freshman Stella Lee discussed how hate crimes have become prevalent to the point of being regarded as common. 

“Sending out emails is not really effective. I have read the email, but I don’t think the University is taking any action to prevent [hate crimes] from happening,” Lee said. “It would be nice to have some measures, but it’s kind of inevitable since we’re in a city and these kinds of things happen in a society.”

In their email, University officials reminded students of the Univerisity’s safety resources, including the Speak2Us hotline, Public Safety phone number and shuttle services such as the Blue Jay Nite Ride

Moving forward, Khong hopes to see more action from the University, given its responsibility to protect and provide for its wider community.

“All these incidents aren't happenstance. They're all connected to Hopkins and its relationship to Baltimore. The perpetrator was having a behavioral health crisis and without sufficient resources in Baltimore for Baltimoreans in terms of things such as healthcare and support, these types of attacks won't be isolated,” Khong wrote. “Nearly a fifth of the population in Baltimore is below the poverty line while at the same time Hopkins is one of the wealthiest institutions in the world.”

In an email to The News-Letter, Inter-Asian Council (IAC) Vice-President Isabel Veloso connected the incident to the University’s push for a private police force. 

“The email said that there was no arrest made because the perpetrator was having a mental health crisis. It would have benefitted the perpetrator and victim greatly to actually have received mental health support after the attack,” Veloso wrote. “A police force would require millions of dollars that could be used to directly benefit Baltimore's residents rather than just punishing them, and this attack just exemplifies that.”

A list of resources for students who may need additional support due to impacts of recent incidents may be found here

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