- Harvard College Undergraduate Council President Michael Y. Cheng has been on the receiving end of racially charged attacks weeks after his inauguration.
- His dorm room door at Quincy House was vandalized on Thursday and had racist flyers posted to it on Monday.
- Cheng said the attacks are coming from people who are against his platforms aimed at making changes to the council.
- He demanded an apology for the flyers and previous “exaggerated attacks” from the perpetrator.
- While Cheng received messages of solidarity from council members, he lamented that some of them may have partaken in the attacks.
- Multiple student groups condemned the “act of direct racism” and urged the college to respond to the incident with concrete action.
Racist flyers were found posted on the door of a dorm room where the president of Harvard College’s student government currently resides.
Undergraduate Council (UC) President Michael Y. Cheng was leaving his dorm in Quincy House on Monday morning when he found two posters with “MICHAEL CHENG IS A CH*NK” and the phrase “SAVE THE UC” written on them, reported The Harvard Crimson.
In response, the 21-year-old Chinese American senior wrote an email to Quincy House residents requesting an apology for the flyers and previous “exaggerated attacks” from the unknown perpetrator.
“I don’t care about punishment, I would just appreciate a personal apology,” Cheng wrote.
Quincy Faculty Deans Eric Beerbohm and Leslie J. Duhaylongsod penned an email to residents to condemn the “deplorable” flyers and express their support for Cheng.
“We want to say in the strongest possible terms that this is absolutely unacceptable; none of these actions is consistent with Quincy’s focus on a safe, respectful, and inclusive community,” the email read. “Hate has no place at Quincy House.”
In an interview with NextShark, Cheng linked the incident to political opponents who took issue with the platforms he touted during his campaign in the UC president race, which he won in November 2021.
“Some people who are angry about the elections just did a bunch of things,” he shared. “During the lame-duck period, they tried to overturn and undermine the election results.”
According to Cheng, the attacker even made false allegations about his character to paint him in a negative light.
“They hacked into my email and sent an email to the whole student body that purportedly came for me, but didn’t,” he shared.
Part of Cheng’s campaign is to “defund” the UC body and rewrite its constitution. The objective of the reforms is to increase funding for student organizations or student activities by “reducing inefficiencies within the student governmental processes.”
In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, Cheng wrote about the hostility he received before, during and after his inauguration.
“The Council’s lame-duck president and vice president submitted a bill to prevent students from amending their own student government’s constitution, and make meaningful constitutional changes impossible without a supermajority of student government leaders,” he wrote.
Cheng told NextShark that he was not surprised about the recent attack, revealing that just days ago, “someone crumpled up a bunch of posters and vandalized my door.”
Cheng called the council’s reaction to the incidents “performative solidarity.”
“Obviously, now that it’s risen to this level, a lot of them are performatively apologizing or standing in solidarity,” he said. “I just haven’t gotten any personal apologies. And I don’t mean to say this in a bitter way, but the people behind this multi-month campaign have no class whatsoever.”
A statement released by the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Women’s Association that was co-signed by 11 other student groups condemned the “act of direct racism” and urged the college to respond to the incident with concrete action.
“We actively strive to fight injustices across an intersectional network of issues that affects all of us as students,” read the statement. “We must not let these actions go unrecognized without consequence.”
According to Cheng, he is disappointed with the breakdown of political civility among concerned students as he acknowledges there are real discussions to be had about his platforms and the issues on campus.
“Launching a multi-month harassment campaign based on racist stereotypes, that’s just not right. It sounds like you’re a coward,” he said. “The most disappointing part is these people just don’t apologize. Even when they get called out. Even though people know who they are.”
Featured Image via Quincy House