A statement of support for our Asian community during the COVID-19 pandemic

pen and notepad on desk

To All Members of the University Community,

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Mark Schlissel announced sweeping measures on March 13 to protect the health and safety of our entire community. In the seven weeks since this announcement, we have seen our “curve” flatten, a positive impact of social distancing reported by Michigan Medicine.

During this time, the majority of us have been working, learning and researching remotely. Although we may be separated physically, we have found new, creative and innovative ways to stay connected, perhaps even more closely than we ever imagined possible.

While many positive moments have emerged during this challenging situation, there has also been an alarming increase in discriminatory incidents directed at Asian Americans, as well as an anti-Chinese dialogue occurring across our country. Members of our own U-M community have, and continue to be, affected by these actions and discourse.

Xenophobic and racist behavior is contrary to our values at U-M and is not representative of our institutional beliefs. President Schlissel has publicly condemned this form of hate on several occasions. I join him in that condemnation. My heart goes out to those who have been affected and negatively impacted by such incidents. I find these actions to be disgraceful, disappointing and repugnant. The University of Michigan strives to be a community that is safe and welcoming – where diversity, equity and inclusion are our guiding values. There is no room for such actions and attitudes in the university community that we are trying to build.

Despite the harmful intentions of these incidents, I would like to shine a light on the overwhelming majority of our community that has come together and continues to support each other when others are attacked. Our strength resides in our shared sense of decency and respect.

Hate-filled actions will only strengthen our resolve to have the University of Michigan live up to its considerable potential as a place that supports and empowers its entire community. A place where everyone is welcome and has an equitable opportunity to succeed and contribute.

Recently, I met with members of the University of Michigan’s APID/A (Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi/American) community who have come together to form a task force to combat AAPI hate. I would like to share a resource developed around reporting incidents of anti-hate and providing community support.

Additionally, several campus resources are available:

  • For Students:
  • Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office (FASCCO) – myumi.ch/bvmp8
  • University of Michigan Police Department: (734) 763-1131

I want to commend the efforts of the APID/A community. Their courage, resilience and solidarity have exemplified what it truly means to be a Michigan Wolverine.

As we continue our efforts to combat COVID-19, we are indeed, all in this together. Please take care of one another and yourself during this time. When we emerge from this unparalleled moment in our history, we will be a stronger and more compassionate University. We will win the future.


Robert M. Sellers
Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion
Chief Diversity Officer

6 Responses
  1. DaeHee Kwak

    I welcome and support this statement but wish this came SOONER… when reports of hate crimes against Asian Americans were growing rapidly back in early to mid April.

  2. John Burkhardt


    This is very helpful and timely. I am not facing the challenges personally that many are but I am aware that the challenges are out there, nonetheless. Undocumented and immigrant students are feeling (as many others) as if there will be a new wave of exclusion and blaming prompted (or excused) by this crisis.

    Statements like these, while they may seem automatic, are really important. Thanks for doing this.


  3. Ronald Paler

    I am not aware of any anti Asian slurs or hate speech in my community. Please demonstrate examples of where this has occurred and their sources. The world is aware of the fact that the Chinese Communist Party mishandled the release of COVID- 19 information in November and December when it could have allowed geno-typing the virus, reviewing the scientific experiments, and employed proper mitigation procedures early on. The government has not provided access to this information. It was Important that the world restrict all travel from China in December. This would have saved lives and isolated the virus from becoming a pandemic.
    The above comments are not racists. Please show evidence of Asian hate speech including ethnic groups of Japanese, Indian, Pakistani, Vietnamese, Filipino, etc.

  4. Barry Checkoway


    Thanks so much for this important statement.

    It makes a great deal of difference to many, when an institutional leader like you steps forward in this way.

    Stay well,


  5. José Luis Hernández

    “Task force to combat AAPI hate” … I guess all the other hate is acceptable and okay.