Columbia University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs received reports that a vandal ripped off name plates from dormitory doors of students who have non-western Asian names.
While both foreign names and Asian American students were targeted, those with English names were not, which caught the attention of the Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs Melinda Aquino.
“The growing climate of xenophobia furthers the impact of this action and the anxiety felt by many of our students,” she said in an email sent to the university’s Asian American Alliance and other Asian cultural student groups on Wednesday.
Ruiqi Zhong said he didn’t make much of the situation until he noticed several of his Chinese friends’ tags in Furnald hall had been taken down on Sunday, as well.
“I think if you really dislike people from China, you can express it in an even more explicit way or perhaps foster some meaningful conversation, but ripping off door tags doesn’t make any sense,” the sophomore told Columbia’s student newspaper, the Spectator. “It doesn’t scare me—it seems ridiculous, in my opinion.”
The Asian American Alliance, along with seven other student groups, including the Korean Students Association and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, released a statement on Wednesday, saying the acts of vandalism “remind us of our larger, shared struggle for racial justice and against antagonism directed at minority groups.”
“By focusing on ‘foreign names’ as a marker of difference, these efforts echo the actions of the Trump administration that target people of color, specifically Black and Brown bodies with non-Western names, as unwelcome,” wrote the group. “These actions have deeply disturbed the international student communities on campus.”
Another sophomore student, Joanna Zhang, thought the whole incident was “just so f—ing disrespectful.”