Asian American and Pacific Islander Community Prompts Change

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Long Chen
Long Chen

Following the tragic shooting on March 16, 2021 in Georgia, Long Chen, associate professor of accounting, worked together with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community to prompt change at Mason.

Chen is the president of Association of Chinese American Professors and Scientists (ACAPS) at Mason. Having been at Mason for the last 15 years, the ACAPS is open to anyone with Chinese descent from across all campuses, and plays an important role in leading efforts of the AAPI community at Mason. The School of Business has 100 percent participation in this group, and the initiative to prompt changes for AAPI community.

“I think it is a very important issue to determine how Asian Americans fit in the anti-racism and inclusive excellence initiative (AIRE) at Mason,” says Chen. As an initial step in their efforts, 82 members of the group (including 15 School of Business faculty members) signed a letter addressed to Mason President Gregory Washington, stating “At this critical juncture in history, we are looking forward to more timely and concrete actions and support from the entire Mason community, to help combat and prevent discrimination, hatred, and violence towards AAPIs.” The letter went on to propose four initiatives for consideration including: Raise awareness of the Mason community with ongoing dialogues, workshops, and other events that involve the entire Mason community; strengthen campus safety, including expanding the 24/7 safety escort service, improving the system of reporting and tracking cases of verbal and physical attacks on or off campus, and taking firm and immediate actions on identified hatred-related cases; consider setting up a new office, and/or designating a director, to oversee and coordinate the university-level anti-discrimination/anti-hatred efforts; and urge the University to bring AAPI experience to the curriculum in a permanent and meaningful way.

Chen, along with other members of the association, later met with Provost Mark Ginsberg for continued discussion and follow-ups. The association also met with Mason’s Chief Diversity Officer, Sharnnia Artis, and Associate Provost, Bethany Usher on further developments.

“The effort of the group was also recognized and echoed by many other Asian communities at Mason,” says Chen. “As nearly 20 percent of our Mason undergraduate student body and 10 percent of our faculty identify with Asian heritage, we hope to build a more safe, diverse and inclusive Mason for all Patriots and the greater Mason community.”

“I feel like this is a responsibility for me as part of this community, and I hope that we can at least make some of these changes,” says Chen. “As the nation celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month of May, the House of Representatives recently passed legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) that seeks to create the first national museum dedicated to preserving the history, culture, and accomplishments of Asian Pacific Americans. The bipartisan bill passed unanimously by voice vote, and now heads to the U.S. Senate. I am glad to see that the changes are under way,” says Chen.

For more information, please reach out to Long Chen at lchenk@gmu.edu.

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