The University of California is urging students, professors and administrators to avoid using the term “Chinese virus” to refer to the coronavirus, claiming it can cast “projections of hatred toward Asian communities.”
Earlier this month, the state university system released a guidance document, titled “Equity and Inclusion during COVID-19,” that is says is meant to “assist campus decision makers, faculty, administrators, students and staff on providing supportive positive and inclusive campus climates during the COVID-19 crisis.”
The document, created by the University of California’s Council of Chief Diversity Officers, says that students, faculty and administrators must reject all “hateful or intolerant speech.”
“Reject racism, sexism, xenophobia and all hateful or intolerant speech, both in person and online. Be an ‘up-stander,’ and discourage others from engaging in such behavior,” the document reads.
According to the university, it can be “hateful” to refer to the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, as the “Chinese virus.”
“Do not use terms such as ‘Chinese Virus’ or other terms which cast either intentional or unintentional projections of hatred toward Asian communities, and do not allow the use of these terms by others,” the guidance says.
“Refer to the virus as either ‘COVID-19’ or ‘coronavirus’ in both oral and written communications,” the document states.
Last month, Hendry Ton, associate vice chancellor for health equity, diversity and inclusion at the University of California, Davis, released a statement expressing similar sentiments about the terms “Chinese virus” and “Wuhan virus.”
“A core of our mission at UC Davis Health is, of course, to advance health,” he said.
“Yet, health, privilege and bias are often intertwined. In recent weeks, we have seen an example of this in the alarming rise in bigotry and xenophobia against Asian communities.
“For many Asians, the racism is not new, but it has been emboldened as Asians are scapegoated for the coronavirus epidemic. This is doubly painful as Chinese communities also bear the weight of most of the lives lost.”
The University of California, Los Angeles’ vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, Jerry Kang, who also endorsed the “Equity and Inclusion” guidance, released a document dated March 17, titled, “COVID-19: What’s in a Name?”
— Jerry Kang (@profkang) March 18, 2020
In the document, Kang explained why he believes the term “Wuhan virus” is offensive.
He also said the coronavirus should be referred to with a “more precise name” for the sake of people’s feelings.
“You can see why I’m concerned about the use of another name, ‘Wuhan virus,’ which reflects both intellectual laziness and stereotyping. It’s lazy in the sense that there are more precise names for the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and the disease that it causes, COVID-19,” he wrote.
“We’re smart enough to learn the proper nomenclature,” Kang said.
“It’s also stereotyping because the term strengthens the mental association between a specific disease and Chinese people, and thus indirectly all East Asians, Asians, Asian Americans, immigrants, foreigners, and others.
“In this sense, using ‘Wuhan virus,’ unwittingly or not, is a form of ‘name calling’ that increases the chances that people of Asian descent will be teased, bullied, harassed, or just made to feel like they don’t belong. It’s so unnecessary in a moment when we need unity not division, care not contempt, solicitude not sarcasm.”
President Donald Trump and his administration have defended their use of the term “Chinese virus.”
Spanish Flu. West Nile Virus. Zika. Ebola. All named for places.
Before the media’s fake outrage, even CNN called it “Chinese Coronavirus.”
Those trying to divide us must stop rooting for America to fail and give Americans real info they need to get through the crisis.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 18, 2020
“Spanish Flu. West Nile Virus. Zika. Ebola. All named for places. Before the media’s fake outrage, even CNN called it ‘Chinese Coronavirus,'” the White House tweeted March 18.
“Those trying to divide us must stop rooting for America to fail and give Americans real info they need to get through the crisis.”
On Tuesday, however, Trump announced he’d decided against using the term, saying he didn’t want to “make any more of a big deal out of it.”
“Everyone knows it came out of China, but I decided we shouldn’t make any more of a big deal out of it. I think I made a big deal. I think people understand it,” Trump said.
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