Dear UMass Community,
We understand that we are in unprecedented times. We are experiencing uncertainty and angst. We want to begin this note by expressing our deepest concern for our community members here in the Commonwealth, across the country, and beyond our borders across the globe. We know that many of our international community members have been coping with the impact of COVID-19 since the beginning of the semester. Our hearts go out to you as you deal with the added burden of often not being near your loved ones, who may be in some of the most affected countries such as China, Japan, Italy, South Korea, Iran, Spain, and others.
In the face of the increasing toll this virus is having on us here in the United States and throughout our global community, we aim to support you in any way we can. The Office of Equity and Inclusion is dedicated to continuing our work in building an inclusive and supportive UMass community, no matter how much distance we have between us.
We also understand that many in our community are dealing with the despicable burden of experiencing bias and stigma because of their race, ethnicity, or nationality. Particularly, we are aware of the reprehensible behavior by those who correlate this virus with people of Chinese descent. We wholeheartedly rebuke this behavior, and emphasize the fact that our Chinese students, staff, and faculty, as well as other community members of Asian descent who may also be experiencing this bias and stigma, are valued and beloved members of our UMass community.
Just this week, a UMass Amherst student who is Vietnamese, had “Corona” yelled at him by someone diving by in a vehicle, while walking in downtown Amherst. Again, we condemn this type of repulsive behavior, and absolutely stand in solidarity with this student, and all those in our community who may be having similar experiences. If you have experienced bias or discrimination, please consider taking the following actions:
- Report bias or discrimination incidents using the OEI Climate Incident Report Form. Once submitted, we will be in contact with you to discuss your experience and next steps. If this is an emergency or you or someone else requires immediate medical or emergency services attention, please contact the University of Massachusetts Police Department (UMPD) at 413-545-2121 or dial 9-1-1.
- Seek assistance from campus support resources such as the International Programs Office, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health, and others listed on the OEI Climate Incident Report Form.
- Recognize that being subject to these discriminatory acts and/or being aware of a climate that breeds such actions can have negative impacts on your mental and physical health. The anticipation of such actions alone can cause significant amounts of stress. Seeking help during difficult times is a sign of strength, and we encourage you to take advantage of the medical and mental health resources that are available.
We must all continue to confront and fight against bias and discrimination, educate ourselves as much as possible, and maintain perspective. Viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of race or nationality. Help stop the stigma related to COVID-19 by learning the facts from reputable sources such as the CDC and WHO.
This is a frightening, isolating, and stressful time for all of us across the globe. However, it also presents an opportunity for us to see the humanity in others, embrace kindness and respect, and support and uplift our fellow humans both near and far. Please take care of yourselves and know that we are here to support you in any way we can. We will be in touch with more information on ways the Office of Equity and Inclusion will continue its work in building a community of dignity and respect for all.
Office of Equity and Inclusion