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Creating a Community of Care to Fight COVID-19 Discrimination

Creating a Community of Care to Fight COVID-19 Discrimination

Public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic are stressful times. Fear and anxiety about the disease are expressed differently, and occasionally, negatively. As the new coronavirus spreads around the world, so do cases of xenophobia against certain ethnic groups.

OU Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Dr. Belinda Higgs Hyppolite reiterates that, in the midst of these uncertain times, the University of Oklahoma must create a community of care.

“We must take every step to denounce xenophobia – prejudice against individuals from other countries – bigotry, racism, and any behavior that would consciously, or unconsciously, divide us as a community,” Hyppolite said. “We are stronger together, and every person who is part of our community should be treated with dignity and respect."

Fostering an inclusive environment for all, with particular attention to the needs of historically marginalized populations, is vital to the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of OU’s mission, she said.

Anyone who witnesses or experiences xenophobic actions, racism, bigotry or any dehumanizing behaviors is encouraged to speak up and report the behavior immediately.

“Please respond immediately to behaviors or actions that are harmful to others,” Hyppolite said. “It is crucial to disrupt hate, bias and any action that would create a barrier among our OU community.”

As COVID-19 evolves, Hyppolite emphasized the importance of seeking ways to support and comfort one another while adjusting to our new normal.

The University provides students, faculty and staff with resources and additional support:  

OU Norman Students: The University Counseling Center will remain open during the semester and can provide services by phone or Zoom. OU counselors can be reached at (405) 325-2911 to make an appointment.

OUHSC Students: HSC Student Counseling Services is available by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, call (405) 271-2336. Appointments are available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

OU-Tulsa Students: Counseling services are available by appointment only via Zoom or phone. Call (918) 660-3109 to schedule an appointment.

Faculty and Staff: The Human Resources Employee Assistance Program is available to provide additional support.

“Creating a community of care is everyone’s responsibility,” Hyppolite said. “It is essential to have a heightened sense regarding our surroundings and how we treat each other.”

Article Published: Wednesday, March 25, 2020