On Tuesday, March 30, Harvard University student and journalist Matteo Wong posted a series of tweets about a controversial statement on the university's "Anti-Asian Racism Resources" page.
"Harvard counseling and mental health resources "Anti-Asian Racism Resources" page starting off strong with "You may wish that you weren't Asian, but remember that your ancestors likely went through similar or even worse incidents...," Wong wrote.
In a series of follow-up tweets, Wong expressed his frustration with the university's response to the increase in racism and crimes against Asian Americans amid the pandemic. Crimes against the community have come under the spotlight, especially after the Atlanta massage parlor shootings, where most of the victims were of Asian descent. Wong also included a link to the page but the statement was nowhere to be found.
However, we can confirm that the university did, in fact, include the controversial statement on its Anti-Asian Racism Resources page. Firstly, social media users shared screenshots of the page with the text:
Secondly, an archived version of the page taken five minutes after Wong's tweet starts off by referencing the mass shooting in Atlanta and also cites COVID-19 as the reason behind the surge in attacks on Asian Americans in the United States.
And just as Wong described, a separate passage on the page under "Managing and Coping" read, "When you experience racism, you can feel shame. You may wish that you weren't Asian, but remember that your ancestors likely went through similar or even worse incidents. They survived by recognizing the beauty and strength of their community."
Harvard Issues Apology
The controversial line on the page has now been replaced by a statement issued by the university, apologizing for the "insensitive" and "inappropriate" content displayed on its website.
"We aim to support all of our students who are experiencing distress in their lives, and it's a mission all of our staff strive to uphold in our work," said Giang T. Nguyen, MD, Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services.
"We are deeply sorry that some recently-posted content on our website not only fell short of that mission, but caused more stress in our community. We had intended to post helpful resources for our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities that we know are hurting in light of recent events around us, but what we ultimately posted included some insensitive and inappropriate content that we have now removed," Nguyen added.
"We plan to engage more closely with members across our community to ensure that we can serve as a trusted, reliable resource for everyone at Harvard, and will work diligently to ensure that this never happens again."