Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Responding to the Attacks in Atlanta

March 17, 2021

Dear Brandeis Community,

Over the past year, we have witnessed a disturbing increase in the number of attacks and hate crimes in the U.S. directed at people who are Asian or of Asian descent. Last night marked a horrifying new low, when an attacker shot and murdered eight people, six of whom were Asian and all but one of whom were women, at two massage businesses near Atlanta.

While motivations for this murder may be complex and are still under investigation, we have seen this violence before. We know that race, gender and class made those who were killed especially vulnerable to such an act, given current patterns of violence we are seeing. We mourn the loss of their lives and are outraged by the fact that their intersecting identities may have rendered them especially vulnerable in our society. As President Liebowitz said in his March 2 message, "When we encounter discrimination, hatred, or violence against another person based on their race, religion, or background, we must condemn these acts and join together in opposition to injustice."

We know that such crimes are deeply upsetting to members of our community, and it is challenging to come together and be supported during this time of COVID-19.

Even before this latest attack, the students in the Brandeis Asian American Students Association (BAASA), working with with the Intercultural Center, had planned an event tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. called Anti-Asian Racism and Envisioning Safety in our Communities to discuss this disturbing rise in violence and engage with one another on how we can act in solidarity to oppose violence. I will be attending this event, and I encourage all of us to join and connect with other members of our community. If you are unable to attend or want more information before attending, the organizers have also compiled recommended readings and resources.

Witnessing violence can be distressing on a number of levels, especially at a time when our normal supports may be difficult to access. There are a number of resources at Brandeis that can provide support, including the Brandeis Counseling Center, the Intercultural Center, the Gender and Sexuality Center and the Center for Spiritual Life. Brandeis employees can seek assistance from the Employee Assistance Program. Faculty, staff, and students can also visit the Support at Brandeis website to review the comprehensive list of services available to everyone. Our Public Safety website includes information and resources related to safety and crime prevention.

We know our own community is not immune to the expressions of bias we see in the broader world. If you feel you have experienced harassment or discrimination at Brandeis, the Office of Equal Opportunity is responsible for addressing all issues of discrimination, harassment and sexual violence within the Brandeis community and stands ready to work with students, faculty and staff. All of these resources are available whether you are on or away from campus.


Mark Brimhall-Vargas
Chief Diversity Officer and
Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion