Dear RBHS Faculty, Staff and Students:
Yesterday President Barchi sent an email to all university faculty and staff as a reminder that stereotyping because of ethnicity is not only unlawful, it is a violation of university policy and goes against our values as an inclusive community. I cannot overstate how wholeheartedly I echo those sentiments and how important it is to avoid assumptions about an individual’s health based on identity or cultural background.
Respect, sympathy, and understanding are cornerstones of our responsibility to care for each other and our community. These values apply in the exam room and clinical office as well as more broadly in our classrooms, and interactions with peers, mentors, students, colleagues, friends, and family. As informed and conscientious members of our community, it is my hope that together we will employ fact and reason to combat prejudicial sentiments and actions that would stigmatize any fellow member.
As you know, Rutgers University has been carefully monitoring official reports and updated health agency guidance regarding the novel 2019-nCoV coronavirus. We have made preparations to respond appropriately as the situation evolves to maintain the safety of our community. While our administration has been vigilant in our response planning, it is important to reinforce the assertions of the CDC and the NJ Department of Health that the likelihood of infection from this novel coronavirus among our community members remains low at this time. There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Jersey, and there is no indication that any Rutgers affiliates have contracted the virus.
Please remember that support and guidance services are always available to those in need through CAPS or UBHC. Additionally, students who have witnessed an act of bias should alert your school’s academic program administrator or student affairs coordinator so that we may formally investigate the incident. Similarly, Rutgers faculty and staff should report incidents of discrimination or harassment (PDF) to the Office of Employment Equity in accordance with the university’s policy prohibiting discrimination and harassment (60.1.12 [PDF]).
We will continue to keep you informed about the university’s activities to address this health crisis and up-to-date information from the university about the novel 2019-nCoV coronavirus and helpful related resources can be found at academichealth.rutgers.edu/coronavirus.
Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH
Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Rutgers University