Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Michael Nassaney

Second Advisor

Daria Orlowska

Third Advisor

Jacqueline Eng


COVID-19 has altered people's daily lives across the globe and heightened tensions in response to changing economic, social, and political conditions. In the United States, xenophobia has seemingly escalated in the COVID-19 era, particularly towards Asians and people of Asian descent. The assumed reasoning for this rise in anti-Asian sentiment is tied to the presumed origins of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome‐Coronavirus‐2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus, first detected in Wuhan, China, prompting some to initially call the disease the Wuhan or Chinese virus, among other racialized terms like the "Kung-flu." It remains to be seen if xenophobic acts have increased throughout the US and the virus's role in exacerbating such attitudes.

This thesis will examine the xenophobic experiences of Asian and Asian American students at Western Michigan University in the COVID-19 era by addressing four main research questions. First, has xenophobia towards people of Asian descent increased in the US? Second, is the increase due to COVID-19? Third, what forms has the xenophobia taken? Finally, how can xenophobia directed towards Asian students be combatted? This research tests the hypothesis that xenophobia towards individuals of Asian descent has increased and is directly linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access