On March 16, the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Club held a mass in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit on the one year anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings to honor the eight victims who were killed and their families.
“I thought it was really good and a nice way to pay tribute to the victims of the shooting,” said sophomore Borris Paul. “I think it’s important to do events like these because it helps spread awareness for these kinds of issues.”
According to the Associated Press, a shooter opened fire last year at Young Asian Massage in Cherokee County, Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa in Atlanta, which resulted in eight total deaths, many of them women of Asian descent. He had claimed that his actions were not racially motivated, but instead prompted by a “sex addiction.”
“Those killed were: Xiajie ‘Emily’ Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; and Delaina Yaun, 33; and Paul Michels, 54; Suncha Kim, 69; Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; and Yong Ae Yue, 63,” reported the Associated Press.
“Our remembrance was something that the university needed,” said senior Grace Sullivan, president of the AAPI Club. “I think that people are quick to forget how quickly something like this could happen anywhere. Without remembrance, we forget and that allows for horrifying things like this to happen all over again,”
The mass included prayer readings, various members of the AAPI Club coming forward with their thoughts and feelings about the shootings as well as naming and lighting a candle for each person who had lost their life.
While this mass may have been an important milestone for students who are AAPI, some still feel that there is still much more work to be done to improve representation on campus.
“In the last two years, AAPI hate crimes [in the United States]have spiked 339% yet we have barely scratched the surface of where it really began,” said Sullivan. “It still shocks me that Sacred Heart did not have an AAPI club until 2021. I’m hoping that this is only foundational work and that this club will remain in place long after we all graduate.”
According to the Associated Press, “Stop AAPI Hate has been tracking incidents nationwide based on victims self-reporting. From March 19, 2020, through the end of last year, it recorded a total of 10,905, with 4,632 occurring in 2020 and 6,273 in 2021. Women reported 61.8% of the incidents. However, the number could be higher as many victims hesitate to report and not all incidents are charged as hate crimes.”
“It is our goal to create a safe place in which students of different backgrounds can come together to connect, inspire and have difficult conversations that improve social awareness for all,” said Sullivan.
“It doesn’t matter when you start as long as you want to be there. This club was established so that students can connect with one another and learn more,” said Sullivan. “We have a lot of great conversations, and it has been really nice to connect with other students. This truly is a community and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”