Can the country-specific language be removed from the original COVID-19 Ask a Dean message?

Date: March 2020


Dear Dean,

I recently came across this post when searching for information about COVID-19 on the Cornell website. I find the wording of the original Ask a Dean message may infer an unnecessary and incorrect correlation between COVID-19 and the Chinese students who study at Cornell University. This may consequently result in misinformation to other Cornell students. Could you kindly consider removing any country-specific language in the original Ask a Dean message and potentially in any future posts? I contacted the Graduate Student Services Office at Cornell on Tuesday, but haven’t heard from them yet. I hope you can help resolve this issue.


Concerned Cornell Student


Dear Concerned Cornell Student,

Thank you so much for your question. I appreciate you wanting to stay informed about coronavirus and would recommend that you stay up to date with current information on the Cornell Coronavirus Resources and Updates webpage. With the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation continually evolving, we all have a responsibility to keep informed.

To your question directly, our Graduate School policy is that we don’t edit any of our Ask a Dean questions other to make them anonymized. We encourage students to be forthright in their questions, and we strive to answer the questions as they are submitted. We want to encourage our students to use this column as a way to communicate with us directly about their questions, and we feel strongly that it is not appropriate for us to change the content of the questions other than to anonymize the content as needed. That said, we also seek to share accurate and correct information! In response to your suggestion, we have added a statement on the publicly-posted response to the original question as a post-script that says, “Update, added 3/6/2020 – It is important to note that the CDC encourages that we communicate the facts that being of a certain ethnicity or citizenship “does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.”

In addition, I recommend you also review another Ask a Dean post, which will be in Announcements on Monday, March 9.

Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.