‘Flatten the hate’: Penn launches task force to address 'China Virus' hashtag

The University of Pennsylvania launched a task force to address anti-Asian racism.

One Asian American Penn student told Campus Reform that they have personally never experienced racism on the campus.

Some Penn students responded by saying the university doesn't do enough to address racism.

The University of Pennsylvania recently launched a task force to address potential anti-Asian and anti-Asian American racism arising due to the coronavirus.

According to UPenn, the university launched the “Task Force on Supporting Asian and Asian American Students and Scholars at Penn” in April. The group will take “an active stand to affirm its commitment to diversity and anti-discrimination,” mainly through a variety of panel discussions. The university said it is “working to support all of its community members in meeting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including those who may experience bias, discrimination, abuse, and/or violence as a result.”

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UPenn refers to the hashtags #WuhanVirus and #ChinaVirus, which trended on Twitter in mid-March, as justification for the task force. 

It also cited an article from the New York Times that criticized President Donald Trump’s continued use of the monikers “Chinese Virus” and “Kung Flu,” further asserting that “inflammatory statements from leaders can exacerbate racist behavior.”

The University of Pennsylvania pointed students to the University of Pennsylvania Division of Public Safety, which is equipped to investigate hate crimes, as well as the university’s “bias incident reporting form” within the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Students, however, are not satisfied with the anti-Asian Task Force, expressing their dissatisfaction on the university’s Instagram page.


“If you’re so committed to tackling racism, let’s start by paying PILOTs so that Black kids in Philly can go to safe schools with teachers, nurses, librarians, and social workers,” said one student. “Where is the support for ethnic studies if you support students of color,” inquired another.

One Asian-American student who asked to remain anonymous told Campus Reform that there is no "significant anti-Asian racism at Penn.”

The student said they have never personally experienced racism at Penn, but believes the university can reduce prejudice against Asians “by not discriminating against Asians in college admissions."

The task force is planning a series of lectures and seminars about anti-Asian bias, dubbed “multilingual restorative practice circles.”

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The first one, hosted in June, was called “Stopping the Hate and Starting to Heal: Living With and Through the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

The group is slated to host a documentary screening and discussion in August centered around the film “9066 to 9/11: America’s Concentration Camps, Then… And Now?” which "focuses on the parallels between the post-September 11 treatment of Arab Americans and Muslims in this country with treatment of Japanese Americans after the start of World War II," according to the Japanese American National Museum.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft