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Coronavirus and Stigma: For students


Dear Students:

The Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (OIDE) remains committed to taking a stand against racism and xenophobia (targeting people of other countries). As a college, ESF also affirms our commitment of fostering an inclusive campus.

During this challenging COVID-19 period, as a society we are seeing higher instances across the globe of Asian and Asian-Americans who are experiencing racism and mistreatment. When people are frustrated and feeling out of control they can target others and wrongly cast blame by stereotyping groups of people. Each and every incident is unacceptable. For example, per the World Health Organization: This may seem like a trivial issue to some, but disease names really do matter to the people who are directly affected. We've seen certain disease names provoke a backlash against members of particular communities. Moreover, diseases are often given common names by people outside of the scientific community. Once disease names are established in common usage through the Internet and social media, they are difficult to change, even if an inappropriate name is being used. As a community focused on inclusive excellence, it is critical that we stand up for each other when facing any form of oppression that threatens our values and any act of racism diminishes us all.

We write to you in solidarity, but more importantly, to extend an invitation for you to be the good kind of accomplice-not just an active bystander or an ally. We encourage you to refrain from sharing images and language that supports xenophobia and, instead, to respond with compassion.

See ESF's Non-Discrimination Policy at https://www.esf.edu/ide/discrimination.htm

To report an ESF Bias Incident https://www.esf.edu/ide/bias.htm

The following are examples of what we can do/say to stop oppression:

As an Ally:

"I am sorry that happened to you. "I am here to listen if you want to talk."

"That sounds awful. You do not deserve to be treated that way. Is there anything I can do to help?"

"What happened to you was wrong. I am sorry for the way you were treated."

As a Bystander:

"Please stop targeting/blaming my friend. They are not responsible for the global pandemic."

"Your racism toward him/her/them is wrong. Please stop."

"I am not okay with how you are treating her/him/them. Please leave."

"If you truly want to combat this public health crisis, I recommend social distancing and washing your hands rather than blaming a group of people."

Please contact our office if you see or experience a bias incident in one of your courses. This includes "virtual" occurrences of any form of bias. If you experience something outside the realm of being an ESF student you can contact the New York State Attorney General's office. They have created a hotline for New Yorkers to report hate crimes and discrimination. In NY you can call 1-800-771-7755 and speak to someone at the Attorney General's Civil Rights Bureau.

Lastly, we encourage everyone to give additional understanding and empathy to those students who might be away from their traditional support systems at this time. Whether they be international students who can't get home, or domestic students whose homes are now inaccessible due to COVID-19, we encourage everyone to show additional support as we weather this situation. Even when we are social distancing, the ESF community can remain a warm and welcoming place for those in need.


Dr. Lizette Rivera

Director of Student Inclusion Initiatives &

Special Assistant to the Chief Diversity Officer

Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (OIDE)



Rebecca Hoda-Kearse

Title IX Coordinator and Affirmative Action Officer

Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (OIDE)



This message is endorsed by:

Office of International Education

Division of Student Affairs

ESF Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee