July 29, 2020

Dear CSU Community,

As the Rocky Mountain Collegian reported last week, earlier this summer several CSU students created an internet listing (on Google Maps, Yelp, and Instagram) for a non-existent restaurant with a racist name and associated content, all deeply xenophobic and demeaning to people of Asian descent. As Colorado State University told the Collegian, “as a community we are appalled that anyone in our Fort Collins community would think it is humorous to create a false posting based on racist stereotypes.” As soon as we were made aware of this listing and the various sites on which it appears, our University Communications team reached out to Google, Instagram and Yelp to report it as a fraudulent listing (since the “restaurant” does not exist) and also an indefensibly racist one.

In addition to our university condemnation of this listing, which I know you all stand behind, I urge you all to read the powerful denouncement of the listing posted by JoAnn Cornell, the director of CSU’s Asian Pacific American Cultural Center. I am proud of and grateful to the students and members of our campus community who have joined their individual voices to our communal one in calling on the various media platforms to remove this listing immediately.

To those of you who share our outrage and are determined to do something about it, you are truly embodying the spirit of Rams taking care of Rams that I invoked in a message to our campus earlier this spring. At that moment in early March, I reminded our whole community that “hateful and xenophobic treatment . . . whether via words or actions, publicly or privately expressed—is racist and wrong. Please, care for one another. If you see or hear this kind of behavior, step in and stop it if you can.

In this particular instance, because what we all condemn—and what we all want to stop—is a listing on several privately-controlled media platforms, we cannot make the listing go away. We know that the longer it stays up, the more that Asian members of our university community feel hurt, frightened, and targeted. And so we all feel frustrated and angry.

But we are not helpless here. A community as united, as compassionate, and as inclusive as the CSU community is never helpless.

What can we do? And what can you do?

We can and will continue to publicly call on Google, Yelp and Instagram to remove the listing. Join us in doing so on your own social media platforms.

We can and will express our unequivocal support of those in our community—students, faculty, staff, alumni, and local community members—who are of Asian descent. Tell your friends and colleagues that you find this listing frankly disgusting. Ask them what they need from you.

We can and will affirm our commitment to being an anti-racist community, and we can make good on that commitment in many ways.

  • Read our summer campus read, Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Anti-Racist, and our fall Rams Read, Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric.
  • Participate in programming offered by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and in many other units across campus.
  • If you are an instructor who will engage with students this fall, make sure they know that your classroom—whether it is virtual, in-person, or a hybrid—is a place where all are welcomed and valued.
  • If you are a supervisor, make sure your staff know that their workplace is a place where all are welcomed and valued.

I will repeat something I have told all of you before, because I believe some among us still need to hear it: CSU is avowedly anti-racist. We take incredibly seriously our responsibility to build a community that embraces diversity and prioritizes equity. And when individuals use racist words or actions to attempt to threaten our values and harm members of our community, we stand in solidarity to repel those threats. There is clearly much work to be done, in our community and across our country. CSU is up for the challenge.