During public comment time at Thursday’s Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) meeting, many students expressed their displeasure with BSG’s decision to distribute masks reading “Hate is A Virus” at a vigil recognizing anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) racism and violence on Monday.
Kevin Chi ’21, a co-president of the Asian Students Alliance (ASA) and one of the organizers of the vigil, voiced his frustration with this decision.
“As someone who spoke during the vigil and was on the stage, it was really distracting to see you hand out those masks in the middle of people talking. [It was] was also frustrating to see you giving out the masks without coordinating at all with people who had put in a lot of hours to put together this vigil,” Chi said. “There was also a lot of frustration among students on how little BSG talked about this tragic event [the Atlanta shooting] that happened to the Asian and Pacific Islander community.”
Nirhan Nurjadin ’21 also expressed his displeasure with the message displayed on the masks.
“I understand the sentiment of wanting BSG to be a part of [the vigil], but I felt that was a bit performative,” Nurjadin said. “It was also a bit tone-deaf, conflating hate as sort of a virus. It lacks a sort of responsibility for hatred and racism since it’s an actual tangible decision.”
Anam Shah ’21 and Tiffany Delgado ’23, members of BSG general assembly, highlighted their confusion with BSG’s involvement and frustration with how the organizers of the vigil received backlash for the masks despite organizers not being involved in their distribution.
“I was talking to one of the faculty members that was on the organizing committee, and they have been receiving feedback and almost backlash about the masks that were distributed,” Shah said. “Handing out those masks was so performative and made me generally upset.”
Delgado said she was unaware that this was done by BSG and said that while at the vigil, she was under the impression that these masks came from the organizers.
“Now knowing that it’s through BSG and being a BSG member, I’m really disappointed that I had absolutely no idea that this was happening,” Delgado said. “So I think that any time we have a decision like this, it should probably also be addressed with not only the general assembly but that whole committee that is volunteering their time to make sure mistakes like this don’t happen.”
Marcus Williams ’21, BSG president, took responsibility for this oversight and apologized.
“I can’t say this enough, I apologize if it was tone-deaf in any regards or hurt anybody’s sentiments or feelings,” Williams said. “Ultimately, that was not the intention and I’m saddened that was the end result and I’ll take full responsibility for that.”