Syracuse.com (Chris Carlson) reports:
Syracuse University put a professor on administrative leave and said they used derogatory and abusive language in a curriculum towards Chinese students.
The Tab Syracuse, a social media account that includes news from Syracuse University, posted a photo of a curriculum calling the coronavirus both the "Wuhan flu" and the "Chinese Communist Party virus."
Screenshots of the curriculum show that it was a chemistry class taught by Jon Zubieta, whom the school lists as a respected professor of chemistry and who won the 1988 Chancellor Prize for Excellence in Research.
Here is the statement from Syracuse University:
Syracuse University clearly condemns racism and xenophobia and rejects bigotry, hatred and intolerance of any kind.
The derogatory language a professor uses in his curriculum harms the learning environment of our students and offends Chinese, International, and Asian Americans everywhere who have experienced hate speech, rhetoric, and actions since the pandemic began.
As a result, a complaint was filed against the professor with the Equal Opportunities, Inclusion and Resolution Office. The complaint will be investigated and processed according to the procedures set out in the Faculty Manual. The professor has been taken on administrative leave and removed from the classroom pending a full investigation.
We will not allow any member of our community to violate the university's commitment to a safe, inclusive, and welcoming learning and living environment. Professors are expected to give special attention to these goals as they are the people charged with maintaining productive, professional, and supportive classrooms for our students. Syracuse University is committed to being an anti-racist community and will be taking swift action to address bias and hatred.
Well, I clearly condemn Syracuse University for punishing the faculty for expressing positions that, in context, are clearly condemnations of a country and its rulers – China and its Communist Party – rather than an ethnic group. Asian-Americans should certainly not see this as an attack on them, just as we Russian-Americans shouldn't see criticism of Russia and Putin's ruling elite as an attack on us.
Chinese students, namely students from China, may be offended by criticism of the Chinese Communist Party and the implication that China is responsible for spreading the virus. Tough. You are no more entitled to be protected from criticism from your country than Americans from criticism of the USA in other countries (or even in the USA).
Now there might be other reasons to object to the curriculum: I don't think professors should use a curriculum as a place to incorporate political spin, especially spin that has nothing to do with the subject of the class – whether it is political spin versus the Chinese are acting government or against President Trump or whatever. This has generally not been seen as a basis for discipline by university faculty members, although it could be a basis for mild reprimand.
But apparently Syracuse is not trying to enforce such a neutral policy. They try to suppress certain points of view – whatever they call "racist", including certain types of criticism of China and the Chinese Communist Party. And, of course, the malleability and potential breadth of the term "racist" will scare off a wide range of speeches that professors may fear will be referred to in this way by critics and the administration. I assume that's the goal.
Many thanks to Mike LaChance (Legal Insurrection) for pointing this out.