Message from the CDO of Weber State University

This communication was sent campuswide March 27, 2020. 

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

As your campus diversity officer and assistant vice president for diversity, I am reaching out to you in this time of crisis to offer my support as we deal with the reality of COVID-19 on our campuses and in our communities. Last week was particularly challenging for our campus community. The emergence and rapid spread of COVID-19 means that we are all adjusting to a new world at school, work and home—and we have had to do it very quickly. Please know we have teams across Weber State University that are working hard to deliver on all fronts for the long haul. And, as stress levels rise, our patience with the situation and with each other will be tested. Please don’t forget—we are in this together. 

While this global pandemic is affecting all of us—our families, friends, neighbors and our day-to-day lives—some of us are impacted in more direct, hostile and overtly racist ways. To this end, we urge all people to actively dispel xenophobic misinformation that COVID-19 is linked to individuals of a specific ethnicity, race, or national origin and to prioritize efforts in addressing the needs of marginalized populations while stamping out stigma, blame, prejudice, myths, rumors, and hate. 

While some of you might question my direction with this message, let me share that two Chinese students were sprayed with Lysol at a Cedar City Walmart and told to “go home.” In our own community, a Chinese family was sworn at and told to “go back to China,” when they were out in their own yard. Another Chinese community member was running on one of our beautiful trails when another woman, picked up a stick, hit her with it and told her “go back to China.” The fear and hatred is real, and it is here. 

Because we each have pre-existing mindsets, formed by our life experiences and philosophical point of view, we will all process the COVID-19 outbreak differently. Still, we call on our campus community to respond to this crisis with unity and compassion. We can create a supportive climate of inclusiveness, respect, and diversity. We are all only as safe as those members of our community who are most at risk and vulnerable.

During these challenging times, I embolden you to be empathetic: put yourself in others’ shoes and consider how their perspective might be different than yours. Be mindful of your comments about who needs social distancing, vulnerable populations by age or ability, or assumptions about the virus based on race or country. The coronavirus threatens us all.

To help you think about ways to respond to this hate, I have turned to our friends at TeachingTolerance.Org for support. You will find an attached document with ways to address hate around this issue. Additionally, you can reach out to me directly, the Center for Multicultural Excellence, Diversity and Inclusive Programs and many other areas on campus listed below for information and support.
Thank you for coming together as we move through this uncertain time with respect, compassion, and dignity. I am here to support you.

Adrienne Andrews