A student’s alleged drunken tirade against Korean students at Tufts University has led to an outcry from the school’s minority students, calling for swift action by administrators.
On April 9, students in the Korean Students Association said that another student, a white freshman said to be from Weston, mocked, accosted and assaulted the students, who were in a dormitory common area practicing for a cultural show.
Korean Students Association members, in interviews with Blast Magazine, said that the freshman drunkenly stumbled upon them around 1:45 a.m., while they were practicing a cultural dance routine.
The student allegedly exclaimed “(This is) the gayest shit I’ve ever done.”
“After the dancers asked him several times to leave, he responded by saying, ‘Fuck you. Fuck you. I could take all of you. I’ll kill you all,'” said Tufts student Jenny Lau in a statement. “He began spitting on each of the five male dancers whom he had been imitating, and shoving one of them.”
Lau said the student attacked the group, ripping members’ shirts and cutting one person’s forehead. A fight ensued, during which the Korean students pinned the white student down and put him in a headlock until he complained that he couldn’t breathe.
As the student’s friends came in and dragged him away, he allegedly shouted to the Koreans, “Fuck you all, you fucking chinks, go back to China! Go back to your fucking country, you don’t belong in this country.”
The Korean Students Association offered up the name of the student, but Blast is withholding it because neither police nor university officials would confirm it. The student also did not respond to our requests for comment.
The alleged attacker did offer a statement, through his friends, to Tufts Daily, the student newspaper, saying that he was attacked first:
“Severely physically hurt, highly emotionally charged, scared for my life, I yelled obscenities at the group,” Tufts Daily reported from his statement.
The students notified a resident assistant about what happened. Campus police also investigated.
Tufts Police Department Captain Mark Keith called it “an isolated incident,” saying no formal charges have been brought against the student and that he will be dealt with by the school’s internal student judicial system.
The incident left the Asian-American community at Tufts calling for increased administrative response to incidents of bias.
Bruce Reitman, Tufts’ Dean of Students, sent out a university-wide email April 10 stating, “The Office of the Dean of Students is currently investigating … Many differing accounts of this incident are circulating within the university community…While we cannot comment on an incident that is currently under active investigation, we want the community to know that we take seriously our responsibility to pursue this incident and to ensure a safe and supportive environment on campus for all our students.”
Administrators would not comment further nor would they say if the student would face punishment.
Reitman said the school was reaching out to the students affected by the incident, but that’s simply not enough, several students said, and they’re angry.
“Despite the fact that this freshman male made death threats to the 13 members present during the incident, he still walks on this campus,” said Jennifer Kim, the vice president of Korean Students Association.
“It wasn’t alleged. It happened, and it was a hate crime,” said Jenny Lau, a junior at Tufts who helped plan an April 16 rally against racial bias, which was attended and supported by the university’s LGBT and African American communities. City Councilor Sam Yoon, Boston’s first Asian councilor and a mayoral candidate also attended.
To many of the school’s minority students, this incident is part of a larger problem. Said Kim, “It seems that currently, the administration is emphasizing only the violence part and downplaying the race part.”
In a letter to the administration, students said the purpose of the rally was to “Call on the administration to make effective institutional changes towards ensuring that all students at Tufts have a safe environment in which to pursue their education.”
In their letter, the students are demanding that the school do more to promote awareness of Asian Americans and to dissuade racial stereotyping. The students also want the school to develop a protocol to swiftly respond to future incidents.
“This affects the overall campus climate,” Lau said. “This definitely shouldn’t have happened.”