Dear Salem State Community,
As you know, the university is continuing our preparedness on campus through our pandemic emergency response and continuity of operations plans as we face the practical realities of COVID-19. We appreciate the commitment and care that the emergency response team is modeling in making difficult decisions during these complex situations for the safety of our community.
As President Keenan has stated, Salem State’s mission is one of social justice, and we are truly experiencing a moment in time during which we must channel that focus and work together in the interest of the greater good. When discussing COVID-19, certain words and language may have a negative meaning for people and fuel stigmatizing attitudes. As the World Health Organization (WHO) stated, these words and language perpetuate negative stereotypes or assumptions, strengthen false associations between the virus and other factors, create widespread fear, and dehumanize those who have the disease. WHO advises against attaching any locations or ethnicities to COVID-19; deliberately designating its official name to avoid stigmatization.
Simply put by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is wrong to call COVID-19 a ‘Chinese virus.’ Unfortunately, the coronavirus’ association with its discovery in Wuhan, China has driven bias, harassment, and hate crimes against people of Asian descent across the county and globally. Asian establishments have been boycotted and now experience economic hardship, and Asian Americans and Asian nationals have experienced verbal and physical attacks due to racial prejudice.
While we understand that there is still much unknown ahead, there are still critical actions we can choose to take together as Salem State strives to both increase the diversity within our campus community and to create a welcoming environment for all members. We will not tolerate acts of bias or hate.
In our efforts to practice inclusive excellence and to prevent future bias-related incidents, we must act together now. During these challenging times, let us be supportive, caring, inclusive, and intentional in our behavior and practices for the sake of all members in our campus community being physically and psychologically safe and secure.
The following are key resources from Salem State University, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, WHO, and the CDC:
- To report a bias concern or incident at our university: salemstate.edu/reporting/
- If you are victim of a hate crime, or witness or become aware of a hate crime incident, you should notify university police if it occurs on-campus or your local police department if off-campus. To learn more about what defines a hate crime, visit: mass.gov/service-details/protections-against-hate-crimes?fbclid=IwAR1WKL7O-1eHxfTPffJKQa-j1m-mT-XosM92aztK8uR4gead5dXqBof0fYg
- Information on the outbreak of COVID-19 (mass.gov): https://www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19?fbclid=IwAR0XGODYuXFtSPA8ho1Z-8daiEXwdkjcyR021T0fS4gsCI0nIejkC1FV6Cw
- A guide to preventing and addressing social stigma associated with COVID-19 (who.int): https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/covid19-stigma-guide.pdf
- Coronavirus disease COVID-19 outbreak information (who.int): https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019?fbclid=IwAR1U5ivb8epGNU3IlxfamsyR0ndJNqDUFfpzMMapWSrhRzUR5TLQK8A57pI
- Facts to reduce stigma around the COVID-19 (CDC.gov): cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/share-facts.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fabout%2Fshare-facts.html
The preparedness and precautionary actions made around the virus and its spread has certainly disrupted our lives both in and outside the university. However, we will always remain a community of learners where all faculty, staff and students have the opportunity to grow as individuals. In living out Salem State’s mission to preparing “a diverse community of learners to contribute responsibly and creatively to a global society,” we must intentionally model it in co-creating an ever more globally aware and culturally diverse environment – together.
Interim Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer