COVID-19 Community Message — Recent Incidents of Harassing and Discriminatory Behavior

March 13, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

This is a stressful time as the university takes significant steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our community and beyond. I echo President Liebowitz’s message earlier this week when he said “the character and strength of Brandeisians and Brandeis will help us through this period as they have in the past.” And I know that the community is coming together to support one another through these unexpected changes.  

Unfortunately, the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has been notified of a number of harassing incidents in which bigoted and discriminatory language, based on an uninformed understanding of the coronavirus, was directed at Asian members of the Brandeis community by other members of the community. I can assure everyone that acts of bigotry committed on campus at any time and for any reason will not be tolerated; and appropriate action, including referrals to the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), will be taken when these incidents are brought to our attention. 

Brandeis was created as a refuge from antisemitism and bigotry towards all. These types of hateful acts based on misinformation are not only harmful to the Asian members of our community, they undermine our sense of safety and offend our community’s founding values and the character and strength of the university. 

If you have been subject to harassing or discriminatory behavior, I encourage you to report it to the Office of Equal Opportunity by filing a report online at the website, sending an email, or by calling 781-736-4806. Other resources to support our community include the Brandeis Counseling Center and the University Ombuds. Please feel free to reach out to me as well at mbv@brandeis.edu. Also, if you witness an act of harassment, I encourage you to report it through these channels as well.  

This is a challenging time for everyone, and I know the Brandeis community will prevail as we have before. Now is the time to come together, support one another, and not let ignorance move us from our commitment to treat each other with dignity, equity, and respect.  

Sincerely,

Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Ph.D.
Chief Diversity Officer and 
Vice President for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion