DENVER — A university in Denver has seen reports of discrimination against students, faculty and staff perceived to be of Chinese, or generally Asian, descent.
In a letter sent to the University of Colorado Denver community, Chancellor Dorothy Horrell said school officials have noticed an increase in reports of people shouting epithets and physically assaulting others in the community. The university said there have been only a few, isolated incidents.
“It is important for all of us to reject anti-Asian discrimination and harassment, even as represented in the guise of people expressing fear of COVID-19,” Horrell said in the letter.
President Donald Trump previously defended his decision to call the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) the “Chinese virus,” calling it a “very accurate name” because it originated in China. Some other politicians said that the term is racially charged, and asked for him to stop saying it. On March 24, he said he’d stop using the name, according to CNN, Fox News and Bloomberg.
Horrell said the discrimination involving the CU Denver community means “many of our friends and colleagues of Asian descent are feeling uncomfortable and unsafe” and could put their mental health at risk.
It’s important to ensure every person at CU Denver feels welcome and safe, she said. The school has made a few moves to address the problem.
First, the Office of International Affairs has reached out to international students and provided resources to help them if they feel they have been affected by discrimination.
Second, CU Denver’s Center for Identity and Inclusion has planned a session — with days and times yet to be announced — called “Inoculating against Racism.” The discussions will range from preventing panic and xenophobia, to identifying credible health information.
And third, CU Denver and Asian leaders with the city of Denver will be able to come together — though not physically, as of now — to share experiences and talk about what more can be done to support the Asian community. This is still in the works as of Friday morning.
Meanwhile, Horrell said there are a few things the CU Denver community can do now:
-Do not ignore discrimination. If you see it, and it involves unfair treatment, abusive words or expressions or intimidating behavior based on an aspect of a person’s identity, report it here.
-If you, or somebody you know, needs support against discrimination, reach out to the Center for Identity & Inclusion team at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303-315-1879
-Understand the facts behind COVID-19 and prevent stigmatization
At the end of her letter, Horrell said she is grateful to be a part of a community that steps up during a crisis.
“In these moments of shared fear and anxiety, we must each do our part to preserve and spread the values CU Denver holds dear: respect, civility and inclusion,” she said. “Let’s keep our community a community.”
Click here for more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on reducing the stigma around COVID-19.