CAMBRIDGE, MA–Undergraduate South Asian student organizations at Harvard University gathered to discuss the #MeToo movement, sexual harassment, and entertainment on Thursday evening in the wake of a recent viral article that accused comedian Aziz Ansari of sexual misconduct, the Harvard Crimson newspaper reported.
The discussion, co-sponsored by the South Asian Association, South Asian Women’s Collective, and South Asian Men’s Collective, focused on the racial and power balance implications of the allegations against Ansari, published on website Babe.net.
“When the Babe article broke, I was in conversation about it with a lot of my South Asian friends, both male and female, across the Harvard community,” Harvard Crimson quoted Simi N. Shah, co-president of the South Asian Association, as saying. “And a lot of them, when we got back to campus, were saying, ‘You know, I keep having these conversations with people, and I think it would be nice if SAA would do some sort of round table discussion.’”
The Harvard Crimson reported that members of the South Asian groups said they viewed the discussion, in part, as an opportunity to discuss race as it relates to the #MeToo movement.
“Oftentimes, race is left out of the discussion when we discuss sexual harassment and sexual assault,” Harvard Crimson quoted Sruthi Palappanian as saying. “So we felt that it was really important for us to have this conversation and discuss it with an intersectional lens.”
Aditi T. Sundaram, co-president of the South Asian Women’s Collective, said the three organizations had previously united for health-related issues affecting the South Asian community, but that this type of formal community discussion was new, according to the newspaper.
“This would be a first step in terms of talking about social issues and political issues,” Sundaram told Harvard Crimson. “The fact that we covered a lot of ground in an hour was really encouraging. It meant that this was something that was on people’s minds.”
“It shouldn’t take an incident like this Aziz Ansari case to start this conversation. That shouldn’t be the catalyst,” Aashay A. Sanghvi, president of the South Asian Men’s Collective, told Harvard Crimson. “I think that more groups should come together and do it.”