Flag honoring Asian, Pacific heritage raised Thursday

Corryn Brock, News Editor

A flag honoring Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month was raised Thursday.

Graduate students Starr Winburn and Justice McGruder raised the flag with a small crowd around noon.

Though Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month is typically celebrated in May, Eastern celebrates the month early so it falls in the traditional academic calendar.

The month celebrates the achievements and contributions of those from all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).

Recently, University President David Glassman, sent an email speaking on the rise in racism towards Asian people amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Glassman’s email he said, Eastern “prides itself on our inclusiveness. We work daily to ensure students representing every culture and background are offered the best and safest experiences possible. A critical component of that on-campus culture demands our deepest commitments to civility and compassion, and in guaranteeing those commitments are extended to every member of our diverse community. Each of us has a role in creating that culture on campus today, and in advancing those values in our own communities tomorrow.”

“It’s clear that despite the progress we have made as individuals and as a country, the struggle for racial and social equality in America continues,” Glassman said. “We must leverage current events as decisive, teachable moments for everyone in our EIU community, and remind ourselves daily of the categorical responsibilities we share in advancing the common good.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Anne Flaherty said the email was important.

“I think it’s important as senior leaders that we take a stand and share our viewpoints when we see hate, that we stand up to it,” Flaherty said.

Mona Davenport, executive director of the Office of Inclusion and Academic Engagement, said the recent rise in hate towards Asian Americans is why the flag is significant.

“That’s why I think it’s so important. When we think about race we think of African Americans, we think of our Latinx and with everything that’s going on now, especially with the discourse of our Asian Americans, it’s bananas,” Davenport said. “I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t like someone because of the color of their skin.”

Flaherty said she believed the flag came at the right time with the rise in racism toward Asian Americans.

“It’s particularly timely this year when you think about all of the anti-Asian hate that is going on in this country…the video I saw yesterday of the woman who was kicked to the ground in New York, it’s just heart wrenching.”

Flaherty called the flag a visual way to support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“We just want to send a message that we don’t tolerate that sort of behavior and we value all races, including our Asian and Pacific Islander students and faculty and staff and we think this is a good way to recognize this particular group this month, through the flag, our We Are EIU flag,” Flaherty said.

Davenport said she is looking forward to a month of events honoring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“We have the opportunity to show homage and to try to do what we can to educate because we are at an educational institution, I think that these flags and the programming that we do is going to be so important for our students to learn,” Davenport said.

 

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at 581-2812 or at [email protected]