Dear Wright State Community,
As the news about COVID-19 continues to spread, Wright State University is committed to sharing knowledge and information related to building a supportive, inclusive and informed community.
Worry about the coronavirus can trigger numerous reactions. For some, concern about our well-being, as well as the health of family and friends, may give way to anxiety, hypervigilance, inability to focus and difficulty sleeping. Importantly, even without traveling in an affected area, people may know and worry about others who are affected. Trying to keep updated via the news and social media can be stressful. Counseling and Wellness Services remains open to assist students in addressing their concerns, they can be reached at 937-775-3407 (www.wright.edu/cws).
For others, fear and anxiety may contribute to broad generalizations and assumptions about Asian and Asian Americans. Classifying all Asian and Asian American people as dangerous or sick, or making assumptions about a person's nationality based on their physical features reinforces long-standing histories of xenophobia and racism, whether intentional or not. These acts of exclusion do nothing to prevent viruses from spreading; and instead, greatly impair our abilities to work together as a community at a crucial time. The reality that we face is that COVID-19 is not associated with any racial or ethnic group, it is an illness infecting all of the world’s people. No ethnic group is more susceptible to contract the virus; we are all at risk and need to work together to secure our health and wellbeing.
We feel it is imperative that we strive for a supportive climate, free from racial hostility for all of our community members, particularly in these anxious times. We would like to offer the following tips for community care as the coronavirus continues to dominate our thoughts and the news cycle.
Asian and Asian American students, faculty, and staff are valued members of the WSU community. If you have experienced bias or discrimination, please consider the following:
Recognize that Anti-Asian xenophobia and racism may negatively affect your physical and mental health. It is OK to seek medical or mental health care as needed and connect with those you trust. Social support is critical, and expressing concern about how you are being affected can be clarifying and energizing.
Seek assistance from campus departments including the Culture and Identity Centers, the University Center for International Education, the Office of Student Advocacy and Wellness, and Counseling and Wellness Services.
Report incidents of bias to the Bias Incident Response Team.
Report acts of discrimination to the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
If you find that you are maintaining distance from or worried about interacting with Asian and Asian American people, please consider the following:
Resist the tendency to make broad generalizations about people. Uncertainty about the coronavirus may lead to anxiety and fear. Harmful behaviors can occur when anxiety and fear are projected onto entire social groups. Being Asian, Asian American or any other ethnicity, race, or descent does not increase the chance of contracting or spreading COVID-19. Viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities, or racial backgrounds. Such behavior is harmful to the well-being of targeted individuals and does not protect anyone from the coronavirus.
Educate yourself and maintain perspective. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the World Health Organization (WHO) have cautioned the public about discriminating and assuming that Asians are more likely to have the virus. At the same time, some people are assuming that Asian individuals wearing masks is an indicator of illness. Wearing masks in some Asian communities can serve diverse functions such as preventing the spread of illness, protecting the wearer from illness (e.g., flu), and limiting the intake of pollutants. Continue to educate yourself as this public health issue evolves and share only trusted, accurate sources of information about how the virus spreads.
Treat community members with care and empathy. Rather than treating someone with suspicion or contempt, ask them how they are feeling and whether they might need assistance getting medical support. People who have returned from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19 more than 14 days ago, and who do not have symptoms, are not infected with the virus. Contact with them will likely not give you the virus. Support people who return to schools, workplaces, places of worship, community groups, or other places after a period of quarantine or isolation.
Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other. Continue to take every precaution you can, remembering who we are – a mutually respectful, broadly inclusive, socially connected and morally accountable campus. Remember that while viruses, fear and hysteria are contagious, so is kindness, love and calmness. Most importantly, seek support as needed and continue to follow the recommendations provided by the university.
Stay healthy, stay hopeful,
Interim Chief Diversity Officer