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University Of California System Tells Students, Staff: Don’t Say ‘Chinese Virus’
Students walk on the campus of University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles, California on March 11, 2020.
Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

The University of California system, bowing to current political correctness, has issued a “guidance document” prepared by its Council of Chief Diversity Officers that instructs campus decision makers, faculty, administrators, students and staff not to use the term “Chinese virus” to describe COVID-19, the coronavirus whose beginnings have largely been attributed to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in Communist China.

Titled, “Equity and Inclusion during COVID-19,” the document begins by admonishing its readers to “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.” It continues, “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. Refer to the virus as either ‘COVID-19’ or ‘coronavirus’ in both oral and written communications.”

The document cites resources from within the UC system, including a Joint Statement from the Vice Chancellor – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the Interim Vice Chancellor – Student Affairs at UC Davis titled “Rejecting Coronavirus Xenophobia” which stated:

A core of our mission at UC Davis Health is, of course, to advance health. 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.

Another document cited was titled “COVID-19: What’s in a Name?” written by Jerry Kang, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at UCLA and one of the signatories to the UC system guidance document. In “COVID-19: What’s In A Name?” King stated:

… 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. We’re smart enough to learn the proper nomenclature.

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.

Forbes reported in January of the UC system’s determined effort to make “Diversity” a prime ingredient in hiring faculty applicants:

The majority of University of California campuses require faculty applicants to submit “diversity statements,” in which typically applicants affirm their commitment to diversity and inclusion as social ideals, detail their contributions to diversity in academia, and outline their plans for cultivating a diverse community on campus …

A new “Initiative to Advance Faculty Diversity” adopted by several departments at Berkeley is the use of a rubric as a screening process to eliminate all applicants who do not conform to the approach to diversity that Berkeley’s Office for Faculty Equity and Welfare might have in mind. A candidate who describes, in the language of the rubric, “only activities that are already the expectation of Berkeley faculty (mentoring, treating all students the same regardless of background, etc.)” is deemed to have given an unacceptable answer.

And there are real consequences for the candidate. In pilot programs, the rubric, to repeat, has been used—and continues to be used—as a screening tool, deployed before the faculty hiring committee can give due consideration to the academic merits of the candidate.

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