Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Asian populations in the United States have become even more vulnerable to violence in many forms. The rise of phrases like the “Kung Fu Virus” or the “China/Chinese Virus” have only served to fan the flames of hate and encourage these acts of violence against anyone who looked ‘Asian’. This upswell of hatred has not spared our own corner of the world, and there have been students on our campus who have also shared similar experiences at the hands of others in the UMaine community. This has resulted in many of our students feeling anxious, fearful and vulnerable being out in the community and even on campus. On Tuesday, March 16th, we witnessed this hate in its most violent form in Georgia, as a white gunman killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women. While the investigation is ongoing and the killer’s motive is unconfirmed, it cannot be ignored that the businesses and people targeted were mostly Asian.

To our dear Asian community, we grieve with you. We wholeheartedly condemn these acts of vandalism, crime, racism, attacks on the elderly, and violence. We are glad you are here. We need you. Your presence enriches us in our classes, research, and all participation. Mostly importantly, you bring joy to our community. You are UMaine. You are not alone. You shouldn’t need to hide, make yourselves smaller, change your names or do anything to keep from being fully present in every space. We see you. We need you. We deeply care for you.
We are here for you.  

Sincerely,

Anila Karunakar

Rob Jackson

Office for Diversity and Inclusion, University of Maine

Our centers are currently open for visitors with a limit of 2 people at a time in each space, including ODI staff. However, we are also available by e-mail to answer questions and provide resources or support. Please reach out to anila.karunakar@maine.edu or robert.jackson@maine.edu to arrange a time to chat!

Mission

The Office for Diversity and Inclusion serves as a vital and integral resource for students and employees in the areas of equity, inclusion and diversity. The office is dedicated to: 1) supporting University of Maine students from historically underrepresented identities, including but not limited to: sexuality, race, gender identity, spirituality, ethnicity, ability, religion, nationality, socio-economic status, and others; and 2) providing awareness and education to the entire university community around issues of equity, diversity, inclusion and privilege. 

We address these priorities by providing safe, welcoming centers and through regular celebratory, educational and thought-provoking offerings including but not limited to: Safe Zone and Inclusion training programs, Lunch and Learn sessions, panel discussions, and outreach to students, staff and faculty. 

Through our presence in the Rainbow Resource Center, the Intersectional Feminist Resource Center and the Multicultural Student Center, we serve as a visible hub for students. The ODI reaches out across our campus and into the surrounding community as well in order to help create a climate of respect, of celebration of difference, and of well-being and safety.

A Note Regarding COVID-19:

All of us at UMaine are committed to inclusive excellence. As such here are ways that we as a community can maintain that commitment even through these unprecedented times:

  1. Treat all people with respect and kindness. Strive to use inclusive language. For example,  start by introducing yourself using your name and your pronouns.
  2. Renounce all acts and words of racism, xenophobia, sexism, islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia and all other types of “othering” that divides our community when you encounter them. Commit to being an active bystander and intervene if you are comfortable doing. Report acts of bias to the Bias Response Team here. Call the police if necessary. 
  3. Support each other. Some among us may need help with food, immediate housing, health care, etc. Please direct students to fill out this form where they can put in a request for immediate funds. Local students can also access food from the Black Bear Exchange food pantry. For those who do not have transportation, the BBE is now offering a food delivery service. You can get more information at their website found here
  4. Be sure to connect with your friends. Here is a list of things that you can engage with while practicing social distancing from the Center for Student Involvement! Campus Recreation is also offering many services and activities, check out their website (www.umaine/campusrecreation). 
  5. Remember to refer to the virus as “COVID-19 or “Coronavirus.” Referring to it as “Chinese Virus” or “Wuhan Virus” is racist and directly impacts the Asian community. For the latest information regarding decisions of the University of Maine System, go to: www.maine.edu/health-advisory.

Standing together we can thrive as a community. We can get through this together.