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Office of the President

February 11, 2020 – Supporting Students and Colleagues

To: Campus Community

From: President Gayle Hutchinson

As you know, the novel coronavirus, or 2019-n-Cov, is presenting as a complex and serious health issue to people all around the world. Within our own community, students, parents, faculty, and staff have worked to ensure the safety of our students abroad and in Butte County.  We have had no reported cases of novel coronavirus locally, and none of our students has traveled in highly impacted areas. However, many of our faculty, staff, and students are impacted because they are worried, stressed, sad, anxious, and uncertain about what might happen next. Some are facing severe anxiety about their friends and family who live in affected areas. Additionally, people of Asian descent have reported an increased degree of discrimination and targeted xenophobia in some communities as people racialize their fears. 

Even if we at CSU, Chico are beyond such bias and irrational fear, we have an obligation to come together as a community to help alleviate the real anxiety and stress that we, our colleagues, and students, are facing. In addition to World Health Organization recommendations and resources offered by WellCat Health Center and the Counseling Center, I offer two suggestions for personal and professional action that we might all take.

First, as part of a tight-knit, global community, it is important that we reach out and inquire how others, especially our colleagues and students from China, are doing. Is this situation potentially affecting their academic or professional life? Many of our Chinese students have appreciated emails in which staff checked in and offered assistance. A simple smile or greeting, along with close monitoring of academic performance, can go a long way.

Second, as educators, it is important that we encourage our students and each other to be critical consumers of information and social media, to ask critical questions, and ascertain if information is from reliable sources. This is especially true as much misinformation about 2019-n-Cov spreads daily through social media.

We know that viruses do not discriminate based on nationality, national origin, or race. Irrational fear and xenophobia are never an appropriate response to an outbreak of disease. Conveying our concern for each other and pulling together to support those in our community who are currently most affected is one way to counteract the damage that can be done through misinformation and fear.