The Council of Chief Diversity Officers at the University of California released a “guidance document” to announce “supportive positive and inclusive campus climates during the COVID-19 crisis.”
The list begins by telling students to “reject racism, sexism, xenophobia and all hateful or intolerant speech, both in person and online,” and to “Be an ‘up-stander,’ and discourage others from engaging in such behavior.”
“Do not use terms such as ‘Chinese Virus’ or other terms which cast either intentional or unintentional projections of hatred toward Asian communities, and do not allow the use of these terms by others,” the university tells students and faculty, insisting that all members of the campus community refer to the virus as only “COVID-19” OR “coronavirus” in all “oral and written communications.”
Officials from all UC campuses signed the guidance document, which functions as an instruction sheet for all faculty, students, and staff.
“While certain concerns of bigotry directed towards persons of Asian descent might be warranted, this UC policy implicitly attributes a malicious motive to those who refer to the coronavirus as the ‘Chinese virus’ and that is laughable,” External VP of the UC Berkeley College Republicans Rudra Reddy told Campus Reform.
“The Chinese government has actively contributed to the spread of this deadly virus by obscuring information about the outbreak and spreading devious rumors trying to assign blame to the American military,” Reddy added.
“They deserve to be called out for their role in this crisis and the UC system should not play along with their propaganda campaign to designate calls for accountability as racism.”
A graduate student from UC Santa Barbara who asked to remain anonymous said, “the fact that the UC system found it a reasonable expenditure of time to put together a ‘guidance document’ is a waste. This pandering to the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is an attack on the mission and values of the University.”
A spokeswoman for the University of California told Campus Reform in an emailed statement, “at the University of California we put our Principles of Community into practice by fostering inclusion and respect to all, regardless of background. UC embraces freedom of speech and robust discussions. This commitment does not prevent us from speaking our core values. UC actively denounces and discourages xenophobia (prejudicial actions against people from other countries), bigotry and racism. Our guidance is consistent with our principles and values.”
As Jonathan Turley adds, it is chilling to see a public university encouraging students to stop others from referring to the “Chinese” or “Wuhan” virus. This remains a point of political debate. Many, including members of Congress continue to use this term because of its origins. Moreover, many object that China has lied about the origins of the virus and arrested scientists who tried to tell the world about its dangers. It is political speech.
We have been discussing the erosion of free speech on campuses with rising speech codes and ambiguous rules barring “microaggressions.” A small percentage of students and faculty often push for such speech codes and regulation. However, it is often difficult for students and faculty to object at the risk of being called intolerant or microaggressors. We discussed previously a Gallup poll confirming that most students feel that they are no longer able to speak freely at college due to this minority of speech intolerant students and faculty. Ninety percent of Pomona students said that they did not feel free to speak openly or freely. It is an indictment of not just Pomona but many of our colleges. Nine out of ten students said that “the campus climate prevents them from saying something others might find offensive.” Nearly two-thirds of faculty feel the same. Seventy-five percent of conservative and moderate students strongly agree that the school climate hinders their free expression. Notably, that is “nearly 2.5 times higher than very liberal students.”
The guidelines issued by UC reflects a view that diversity allows for the silencing of others who hold opposing political views. Many view the reference to the Chinese virus as a statement of its origins and no more prejudicial than the Spanish Flu. I have previously stated that I find the use of the Chinese virus to be gratuitous and unscientific. Yet, while I use coronavirus as the term, I agree with others that we need to resist the global effort of China to bury its responsibility in concealing the facts of the outbreak, including barring disclosure during the early critical months of the outbreak.