Supporting all members of the Cornell community during COVID-19

March 31, 2020

Dear Cornell Community,

This is undoubtedly a difficult time for all of us as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainties that lie ahead. While there have been a number of uplifting stories of overwhelming kindness and generosity in the face of adversity, we write today to call out the increased bias and racism perpetrated against members of our Cornell community who are Asian and Asian-American. We want to state clearly that bias and racism are completely outside of Cornell’s values. Since its founding, Cornell has had a deep commitment to both inclusion and critical thinking, ideals that guide us away from bigotry and panic and toward truth and reason. In line with the CDC guidelines on “reducing stigma,” we want to reinforce that the disease should be referred to by its official name, COVID-19.

If you have been impacted by bias or if you have witnessed bias in any context, please report it. Your report will be taken seriously and addressed. In addition, Cornell’s Asian and Asian American Center offers support and resources for our Asian and Asian American students. Information and resources for our international community can be found on the Office of International Affairs website.

The pandemic and the restrictions put in place to protect public health have placed an enormous strain on our families and communities, and many uncertainties still exist that can cause anxiety and fear. We must continue to choose inclusion, to choose each other, and to choose to be supportive of one another in the face of this, or any challenge. As the Tompkins County Human Rights Coalition recently put it, “We are all in this together. And we will eventually overcome this together.”

Please take care of yourselves and each other in the coming weeks and months.


Avery August
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Presidential Advisor on Diversity and Equity

Vijay Pendakur
Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students and Presidential Advisor on Diversity and Equity

Angela Winfield
Associate Vice President for Inclusion and Workforce Diversity and Presidential Advisor on Diversity and Equity

Laura Rugless
Associate Vice President for the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX Coordinator