Dear MMC Community,
As the novel coronavirus that results in COVID-19 continues to spread, an unfortunate reality that has emerged is an increase in expressions of xenophobia and racism towards individuals of Asian descent, especially the Chinese community. Sadly, these expressions are part of a dangerous pattern: historically, there has been widespread stigmatization of people who inhabit regions where outbreaks originate. Related to the crisis we are now facing, anti-Asian rhetoric unfortunately has a long history in the United States. While we witness the use of inflammatory language by public officials and learn about physical attacks occurring globally, I encourage members of the MMC community to not only avoid participating in these type of harmful actions, but also to be active participants in interrupting and denouncing the behavior if you witness it.
New York City is home to more than one million Asian Americans and has the world’s largest Chinese population outside of mainland China, including nine different Chinatown neighborhoods. The backdrop of this diverse city is the reason why many of you decided to join us as MMC Griffins, but it is not enough to simply enjoy the benefits of living in the vibrancy that diverse cities provide; we must also be neighbors to those whom we live amongst.
During this period of remote learning and working, I encourage all members of the MMC community to continue to uphold the standards of civility and respect that we have together embraced. If you have experienced or witnessed any acts of bias either in relation to current events or otherwise, please consider the following:
· Report a Bias Incident by filling out a Bias Incident Form. Any member of the MMC community can report a bias incident that occurs directly to them or that they witness.
· Stay connected to those you trust. Reach out to a network of people who you trust in order to share your experience and not feel alone.
· Reach out to campus offices. Although we may not be physically on campus, we are still available to answer your questions and provide resources when possible.
· Recognize that experiences of xenophobia and racism may impact your mental health. If you need support during this time, please contact our Counseling and Wellness Center, whose counselors may be able to see students remotely or provide necessary resources.
During this time, compassion and empathy are needed more than ever.
· Resist making generalizations about a group of people and challenge yourself to understand why you may be doing so.
· Continue to educate yourselves about the history of anti-Asian rhetoric that exists in the United States. Remember that no group of people is immune to this virus as we see it rapidly spreading to different countries and people of various generations.
· Realize that this can be an emotional time for many people, especially as we are inundated with messaging around the virus. Ask for permission before beginning a conversation about the COVID-19 outbreak as each person’s emotional response to this may be different.
· Continue to practice social distancing. While many of you may have returned home, it will be tempting to spend time with people you have not seen for some time. Be reminded that gatherings of multiple people make it easy for this virus to spread. Many people who are asymptomatic may unknowingly be spreading the virus to others. Play your part to keep this virus from spreading.
Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other during this time. We are here to support you as needed. Stay informed on this evolving matter through our COVID-19 Information Page.
Rebecca Mattis-Pinard, Ed.M.
Chief Diversity Officer and Title IX Coordinator