Pan Asian Council issues statement condemning anti-Asian discrimination amid COVID-19 pandemic

The council addressed that racist sentiments have directly affected its members and rejected associating nationality to the COVID-19 virus.


Jenna Galligan

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Josie Fischels, Arts Editor

The Pan Asian Council issued a statement Friday addressing and condemning anti-Asian discrimination that has affected members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Dedicated to addressing and advocating for the diverse needs of the numerous Asian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Indigenous communities at the University of Iowa, we acknowledge that racist sentiments have directly affected our members,” the council said in the statement. “We condemn anti-Asian bigotry and unequivocally reject the prescribing or associating of a nationality to the virus and disease.”

The statement condemned the racialization of COVID-19, framing the virus as a wartime attack on the U.S. from another country, and assigning or associating a nationality to COVID-19. The council also urged the UI community to continue to seek education regarding health and well-being practices amid pandemic, including a further understanding of scientific nomenclature’s role in inciting xenophobia and the history of anti-Asian prejudice in the U.S.

The council cited the naming process of COVID-19, as well as the World Health Organization’s decision in 2015 to cease naming viral diseases after countries, regions, or other demographic markers after the organization’s acknowledgment that names such as the “Spanish Flu” and “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome” had caused stigmatization of certain communities and economic sectors.

The council also acknowledged the unique long-term stressors many members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community currently face amid the pandemic, including separation from family and friends in Asian countries also grappling with COVID-19.

“While most Americans have been seriously struggling with the anxiety, fear, and uncertainty brought by COVID-19 for a few weeks, numerous Asians and Asian Americans have been contending with these difficult stressors for many months as they watched and waited to see the fate of their loved ones in Asia,” the Pan Asian Council said in the statement. 

The council stated that it wishes to reflect and amplify prior statements made by UI leaders, including Provost Montserrat Fuentes and Carver College of Medicine Associate Dean Denise Maritnez. 

“There are many things that may currently be out of our control, but acting with an ethic of care rather than hostility and encouraging the communities we are a part of to do the same is something within our personal realms of influence,” the council stated.

PAC included a “Signatures in Solidarity” form in their statement allowing members of the community to publicly commit to rejecting racist acts and attitudes caused by COVID-19 fear and misinformation. The council also provided resources promoting awareness and support of health and well-being:

Resources for raising awareness about relevant issues: 
Resources for health, well-being, and safety: