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No time for hate: COVID-19 stigma

In this time of crisis, it is essential that we lift up our commitment to the values of inclusivity within our campus.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion  •  March 13, 2020

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education issued a letter to all colleges and universities across the nation regarding concerns of discrimination and bias related to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus. The letter cites an increase in the number of reports regarding stereotyping, harassment, and bullying directed towards students and faculty perceived to be of Chinese-American or, more generally, Asian descent.

In this time of crisis, it is essential that we lift up our commitment to the values of inclusivity within our campus.

Combating stigma associated with COVID-19

Stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate an infectious disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is infected or at risk for the disease. Stigma hurts everyone by creating fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem. Please refer to the university’s website or the CDC website for additional guidance.

  • Viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities, or racial backgrounds.
  • People—including those of Asian descent—who have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of COVID-19 or been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19 than other Americans. 
  • People who have returned from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19 more than 14 days ago and do not have symptoms are not infected with the virus and contact with them will not give you the virus.
  • Share the need for social support for people who have returned from affected countries or are worried about friends or relatives in the affected region

Language Adapted from the CDC and Department of Public Safety websites.

Any discrimination incident that may be motivated by another person’s race, color, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity is considered a hate crime. The act does not need to be a federal, state or local crime.


Students, faculty, staff and visitors who believe they have witnessed or been the target of bias, intolerance or discrimination may report an incident to the Office for Inclusive Excellence (bias and intolerance) or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (sexual misconduct and discrimination).

Below are some additional resources available to the campus community:

The U is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion 

The University of Utah strongly condemns bias, discrimination, racism, bigotry and hate. We support fostering an inclusive campus and are committed to diversity. U administrators want to assure students, faculty and staff that they are dedicated to creating a safe, welcoming and equitable campus where we work together to engage, support and advance a living, learning and working environment that fosters values of respect, diversity, inclusivity and academic excellence.

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