Date of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Type



Biological Sciences

Director of Thesis

Sei-Hill Kim

Second Reader

Elaine Chun


This thesis examines the impact of COVID-19-induced discrimination against Asian Americans (AsAms) and its effects on the mental health of college-aged individuals within this demographic. The study specifically targets East and Southeast Asians due to their heightened connection with the pandemic. Data was gathered via a survey disseminated among undergraduate AsAm students at the University of South Carolina. The survey sought information on the occurrence and forms of discrimination encountered pre-pandemic and during the pandemic, alongside the mental health condition and coping mechanisms of the respondents. Moreover, participants were prompted to assess the efficacy of suggested approaches in addressing discrimination. The investigation explored the perceived increase in discrimination against AsAms both pre-pandemic and during the COVID-19 outbreak, uncovering a noticeable upward trend during the crisis. It further explores the array of discriminatory experiences encountered, uncovering a notable shift towards overt manifestations like verbal harassment and cyberbullying. Coping mechanisms exhibited diversity, with avoidance strategies prevailing, and individuals frequently turning to siblings and friends for support. The detrimental effects of discrimination on mental and emotional health were apparent, notably reflected in increased levels of stress and anxiety. Suggestions for addressing discrimination encompassed efforts to improve cultural understanding and education, challenge stereotypes, and strengthen anti-discrimination policies. However, skepticism surrounded the effectiveness of restorative justice measures and programs promoting intercultural dialogue.

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© 2024, Matthew X Soos