Statement from Steven J. Fluharty, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania

Steven J. Fluharty

The roots of injustice, racism, and violence directed against the Asian American and Pacific Islander Desi American (AAPIDA) community are deep, and their effects are painful. The Penn community is unfortunately experiencing this pain once again because of anti-Asian comments made by a faculty member here on our campus. These comments have caused distress across the School of Arts and Sciences. The School emphatically condemns these remarks, as it does all racism and xenophobia. We echo the thoughtful statements by Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, the Asian American Studies Program, and Dean Ruger at the Law School, and share the belief that the professor’s comments have no place in our community.

We hold our Penn AAPIDA students, faculty, staff, postdocs, and alumni in high esteem as members of our community who enrich our University.  Our future depends on ensuring that members of the AAPIDA community, and people of all backgrounds, can flourish without fear of attacks on their humanity.

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Support and resources are especially important at times like these. The message below, from Penn’s Task Force on Support to Asian and Asian American Students and Scholars, highlights a number of resources for our Penn community.

Statement from Penn’s Task Force on Support to Asian and Asian American Students and Scholars

In April of 2020, the University of Pennsylvania established the Task Force on Support to Asian and Asian American Students and Scholars (TAASS) to coordinate and enhance support to members of the Penn community experiencing increased stigma, bias, discrimination, and violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Task Force, now convened by the Office of Social Equity and Community, is charged with identifying recommendations to the University to better serve Asian and Asian American experiences moving forward. The Task Force is led by Vice President for Social Equity & Community and University Chaplain Rev. Dr. Charles Howard and Vice Provost for University Life Dr. Mamta Accapadi. Membership includes faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students, including representatives from the Undergraduate Assembly (UA) and the Graduate & Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA).

Recent racist comments made by a member of the faculty in our university's Law School have caused hurt and harm in the community.  Dean Ruger’s response and organizing efforts by students remind us that racist comments and perpetuation of harmful stereotypes do not reflect the values of our broader community. The Task Force joins the University and community members in condemning hateful speech. These events underscore the continued need for the University to identify and demonstrate commitment to meeting the needs of Asian and Asian American students, scholars, and community members as well as other targeted and structurally marginalized communities. The Task Force invites the Penn community to share perspectives on what resources and supports would better serve to uplift and improve Asian and Asian American experiences in both the short and long term.  Contact the task force through the Office of Social Equity and Community.

For those interested in connecting with current programs and initiatives, we encourage you to get involved with one or more of the following:

  • The Asian American Studies Program (ASAM) is an interdisciplinary program celebrating 25 years at the University. It offers a minor and a broad range of courses and activities that explore the historical and contemporary experiences of Asian immigrants and of persons of Asian ancestry in North America. Through core courses in sociology, English, and history, the program explores questions of race and ethnicity in national and global contexts.  Students may complete the ASAM minor alongside a multitude of majors.
  • The Pan-Asian American Community House (PAACH) is a community resource center that develops and implements innovative programs for leadership development and community building ( and service) in close collaboration with Asian and Asian American student and community groups.
  • Penn Global is comprised of the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, Perry World House, Penn Abroad, International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), Global Support Services, and Penn Global Finance and Administration.
  • The Pan-Asian Faculty & Staff Association (PAFSA) serves as a space for our community of Asian/Asian American-identifying staff and faculty to share ideas, knowledge, and connections. PAFSA provides networking, and professional development opportunities throughout the year. For more information and to join the network, please contact PAFSA facilitators, Aman Kaur at amankaur@pobox.upenn.edu and Ryan Villanueva at ryanv@upenn.edu

For community members who have experienced harm, bias incidents or need support:

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