Indian Student Association needs to speak out about recent events

Failure to speak out is failure to lead.

Anant Naik

Editor’s Note: The University of Minnesota’s ISA released a statement on their Facebook page after this column was published on March 10, 2017. The post denounced recent acts of violence, hate and racism.

In the past week, two specific hate crimes against people of Indian decent have transpired. Late last week, a gunman attacked two Indian men at a bar in Olathe, Kansas, killing one, and severely injuring the other. Just a few days ago, a Sikh man in Kent, Washington was shot outside his home after assailants yelled at him to “go back to [his] own country.” These attacks aren’t new — many news outlets have reported the long-standing history of Indian people being targeted in the United States.

Like many Indian students, I am an immigrant. I have witnessed first-hand that these xenophobic attitudes do exist on our campus as well.

The Indian Student Association claims to provide “professional and social support” for students in the Indian and South Asian community and to “strive to nurture the feeling of togetherness among Indians.” The concerns of safety are legitimate to many members of the Indian community. Considering that many people targeted by xenophobia have been innocent bystanders, the conversations that I have had with my parents are not isolated — they are happening in many households around the country.

Being a member of the Indian community and part of communities in the broader Twin Cities-area who have been vocal in their opposition to this hatred — and who have expressed clear support for people who feel scared and marginalized — the ISA ought to use their platform to provide comfort to the many Indian students on campus. Earlier this year, the Jewish community and many student groups on campus became rightfully vocal in speaking out against a spate of hate crimes reported across the United States. Why this hasn’t occurred in the Indian community on campus is quite frankly appalling.

Spring formals and dances may be a celebration of Indian culture — but when the threat against the Indian community is evident, failure to speak out is failure to lead. Being the face of the Indian community on this campus, ISA particularly bears such a responsibility — especially during a time like this.