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Open Letter to the Miami University Community: Viruses know no borders, have no nationalities

We write to register our alarm at hearing widespread national references to COVID-19, or the global coronavirus pandemic of 2019 and (now) 2020, as the “foreign virus,” the “Chinese virus,” or the “Wuhan virus.” Not only is such rhetoric false, it is also dangerous. Loneliness and fear are intrinsic risks of any public health crisis under the best of circumstances. Medical nativism just escalates all the risk of isolation and anxiety our Chinese students might face.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have determined that COVID-19 (a name deliberately conferred precisely in order to avoid a geographic place-name for the virus) is a global pandemic. The US Federal Government — including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. State Department — officially states that it seeks international cooperation with other governments in combating and containing COVID-19 and will provide funding to international organizations involved in efforts to respond to the pandemic. Yet politicians and pundits, echoing irresponsible fear-mongers, seem intent on causing geopolitical and geoeconomic instability, not to mention hatred, xenophobia and racial antipathy, by stirring up archaic, stereotypical and racist ideas about “Yellow Peril.” 

We denounce that divisive rhetoric and we counter with these truths: viruses know no borders; viruses have no nationalities; a global pandemic requires a global public health response, one that is humane and grounded in humanist ideals about our shared humanity on planet earth. Rather than a nationalistic response, we urge that we globally unite our efforts toward finding a cure or vaccine, administering and expediting testing and aiding those so afflicted by this pandemic.

To our institution, Miami University, to our President Gregory Crawford, to our Provost Jason Osborne, and to our Governor Mike DeWine, we thank you all for your proactive efforts to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 in the state of Ohio. A few times over recent weeks, we have been encouraged by people to reach out to our Chinese students in support. 

To our students, to Ohioans, to US citizens, but also, equally and passionately, to the global community, we affirm that this racist rhetoric is wrong, harmful and lamentable. We affirm, finally, that globalization—our interconnectedness, our public health, our common futures—depends also (and vitally) on global compassion and an impassioned denunciation to the regressive and dangerous barriers (racial, national, religious and other) that threaten to divide us and endanger us. 

Faculty and Staff, Global and Intercultural Studies Department

Jana Braziel, Western College Endowed Professor

Sheila Croucher, University Distinguished Professor

Rodney D. Coates, Professor 

José Amador, Associate Professor

Damon Scott, Assistant Professor

Elena Jackson Albarrán, Associate Professor

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Sandra Garner, Associate Professor

Polly L. Heinkel, Administrative Assistant 

Basak Durgun, Visiting Assistant Professor 

Elizabeth J. Stigler, Visiting Assistant Professor  

Martha Sapiro, Program Associate

Lisa McLaughlin, Associate Professor

Walt Vanderbush, Associate Professor

Juan Carlos L. Albarrán, Senior Lecturer

Naaborle Sackeyfio, Assistant Professor

Kate Dannies, Assistant Professor 

Carl Dahlman, Professor 

Charles Stevens, Associate Teaching Professor

Dilchoda Berdieva, Lecturer

Oana Godeanu-Kenworthy, Associate Teaching Professor

Jennifer Cohen, Assistant Professor

Marguerite S. Shaffer, Professor

Stanley W. Toops, Associate Professor

Dan DiPiero, Visiting Assistant Professor

Winona Landis, Visiting Assistant Professor

Mark Allen Peterson, Professor

Madelyn Detloff, Professor

Shelly Jarrett Bromberg, Associate Professor 

Zeynep Aydogdu, Visiting Assistant Professor

H. Louise Davis, Associate Professor

Tammy L. Brown, Associate Professor


Patricia Gallagher Newberry, associate lecturer, Journalism Program

David Sholle, Associate Professor

Hongmei Li, Associate Professor of Strategic Communication

Cathy Wagner, AAUP Chapter President

Mack Hagood, Blayney Associate Professor, Comparative Media Studies

Vincent M. Artman, Visiting Assistant Professor of International Studies and Fellow at the Havighurst Center for Russian & Post-Soviet Studies

Katie Day Good, Assistant Professor of Strategic Communication

Heidi McKee, Professor, Professional Writing, English

TaraShea Nesbit, English

James Bielo

Dana Cox

Michele Navakas, Associate Professor of English

Stephen Norris, Professor of History

Irena Kola, American Culture and English Program

Stefanie Dunning, Associate Professor of English

Margaret Luongo, Associate Professor of English, Director of Creative Writing

Larysa Bobrova, Assistant Teaching Professor, English Department, and Coordinator of the ELLWC

Jason Palmeri, Associate Professor of English 

Yuridia Ramírez, Assistant Professor of Global and Intercultural Studies

Venita Kelley, Visiting Assistant Professor

Kirk Boyle, Associate Professor of English, University of North Carolina Asheville

George Potter, Assistant Professor of English and Affiliated Faculty in International Studies, Valparaiso University

Susan Coffin, Administrative Assistant (MJF Dept.)

Joznne Gula. Visiting Assistant  Professor of Strategic Communication

Madhu Sinha, Lecturer, Interdisciplinary and Communication Studies

Shannon Rose Riley, Professor & Chair, Humanities Department, San José State University

Suzanne Harper, Professor of Mathematics

Ann Elizabeth Armstrong, Associate Professor of Theatre

Edith Lui, ASG Secretary for Academic Affairs

Louis DeBiasio, Associate Professor of Mathematics

Jennifer Flory Edwards, Visiting Instructor, American Culture and English Program

Janice Kinghorn, Associate Professor

Carol Olausen, Program Director, American Culture & English 

Todd Edwards, Professor, Department of Teacher Education 

Ann Rypstra, Distinguished Professor of Biology

Stan Corkin, Professor of Film Studies, University of Cincinnati

Rosemary Pennington, Media, Journalism & Film 

Cathie Grimm 

Caryn E. Neumann, Associate Teaching Prof, Interdisciplinary and Communication Studies

Michelle Buchberger, Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary and Communication Studies

Pepper Stetler, Associate Professor of Art and Architecture History

Trevor Root, Graduate Student, English

Kurt Olausen, Academic Advisor 

Theresa Kulbaga, Associate Professor of English