UMToday Message from President Bodnar

March 9, 2020

Dear UM Family:

We have provided you with a great deal of COVID-19 information because we want the UM community to be knowledgeable, prepared and informed to help prevent the spread of the virus. Equally important, we also need your help to halt the spread of discrimination and hatred that threaten to emerge in response to the virus.

You have heard me reiterate many times that we are a family that helps one another through tough times, as well as celebrates the joyful ones. The emergence of COVID-19 requires that we come together not only to fulfill our roles in practicing healthy preventative measures but also to ensure no member of our community – both on and off campus – is stigmatized due to coronavirus (COVID-19). We need to stand in support of individuals who are facing discrimination and being subjected to xenophobic behavior due to the origin of the virus in Asia.   

As we know, fear is one of the most dangerous symptoms of any epidemic. People respond to real and imagined threats, and perceptions often are far from reality. In times of uncertainty, we sometimes dangerously generalize about categories of people. Over the past week, members of the UM and Missoula community and their families have personally experienced social stigma and discrimination because of their nationality or perceived nationality as it pertains to the coronavirus. While the Global Engagement Office and, particularly, the International Students and Scholars Office and English Language Institute, are proactively supporting our international students and scholars from affected countries, it is important for the entire campus community to be aware of groups of people who may be experiencing stigma because of COVID-19. These groups could include persons of Asian descent, people who have recently traveled to/from an affected country, people who have been quarantined as a precautionary measure, emergency responders or healthcare professionals. 

To be clear, discrimination and harassment of any kind do not align with our UM values. I ask every member of the UM family to actively join me as we work to disrupt incidents of bias when they occur. It is our duty to ensure members of our family and community feel safe, included and welcome. We must, particularly as we face situations such as these, but in our everyday lives as well, remain steadfast in our commitment to inclusion.

Seth

This message was updated Thursday, March 12th to correctly reflect the message sent in UMToday on the 9th. This page previously contained an incorrect message regarding sporting events.