Ohio State students protest anti-Asian violence, ask university for support at Thursday rally

“Stop Asian hate. End white violence!” and other chants echoed across the Oval Thursday as more than 100 people gathered outside Thompson Library to protest increased violence against Asian Americans.

Jindi Zhang, a 2020 Ohio State graduate and a co-organizer of the event, said the rally was created by Stop Hate OSU, a rapid response team of Ohio State students who came together to respond to the Atlanta shooting, to show student response on campus to the March 16 shooting and killing of eight people across three Asian-owned spas in Atlanta and other recent incidents of anti-Asian sentiment. The protest was also meant to bring the Asian community together. 

“Especially in the pandemic, a lot of us are receiving news of this alone, and so just to be able to hear each other and wanted also to kind of build on and draw connections to other movements and other struggles because I believe that all our struggles are interconnected,” Zhang said. 

Eight people were shot and killed and one person was wounded March 16 at three Asian spas in the Atlanta area. Six of the deceased victims were women of Asian descent. Robert Long has been charged with the crimes.

The attacks came amid a year-long spike in prejudice and violence against Asians and Asian Americans. Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center founded in March 2020 to track hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, received 3,795 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents between March 19, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021.

The event consisted of nine speakers who shared their own experiences with anti-Asian racism and looked to encourage the audience to take action and stop the spread of hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 

Jacob Chang, Undergraduate Student Government president-elect, said students are also asking the university to increase funding to support Asian, Pacific Islander students on campus, implement systematic education that addresses white supremacy and the histories of the API community, increase representation on decision-making bodies that are responsive to student needs, disaggregate all API data and the category of “Asian” on all Ohio State records to the country to origin and increase funding to promote the safety of API students while decreasing the role of the police. 

University spokesperson Ben Johnson said in a statement that Ohio State’s support for the Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American members of their community is “strong and unwavering.”

“We appreciate all of those on our campuses who are speaking out against violence and hate. Their voices are more important than ever at this time when violence against Asian Americans and Asians from other countries is on the rise nationwide,” Johnson said. “We look forward to working together with all members of our Buckeye community as we strive to create a more inclusive, anti-racist society.” 

In a March 18 letter following the Atlanta shootings , University President Kristina M. Johnson said the Office of Student Life Multicultural Center will continue to offer and add Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American programming. 

Zhang said they believe university administrations don’t know how to support the needs of the Asian American community, so these demands will put them in the right direction to help API students. 

“I think that these demands hopefully are a place just now and also we hope in the future people will bring them into meetings when they’re meeting with President Johnson,” Zhang said.

Chang, a third-year in political science and psychology, said the demands are about supporting students’ physical safety and mental health.

“We need to be bold, to imagine, to dream, to dream that there is a community, that Ohio State students can walk on their own without thinking about, ‘Who I am, am I Asian enough? Should I prove my identity with my trauma?” Chang said.

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