MUN president condemns xenophobia on campus in wake of coronavirus outbreak

Gary Kachanoski says some members of the university community have been "singled out and felt ostracized and mistreated."

Gary Kachanoski says some have been 'singled out and felt ostracized and mistreated' at university

Memorial University president Gary Kachanoski says racism and xenophobia will not be tolerated on the university's campuses. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Memorial University's president says xenophobia and racism will not be tolerated at the school.

In a strongly worded statement published Wednesday in the Gazette, MUN's official news site, Gary Kachanoski said he's also been told that some members of the university community "have been singled out and felt ostracized and mistreated by others" since the outbreak.

"Racism and xenophobia will not be tolerated on Memorial campuses," wrote Kachanoski, who did not provide specifics in his statement and has been unavailable for interviews since it was released.

University officials are monitoring the spread of the novel coronavirus, said Kachanoski, who noted the risks for Canadians remain low.

To date, there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Learn the facts, says president

Kachanoski urged people to learn the facts and "refrain from making assumptions and judgments. And most important of all, treat others with respect and kindness."

Students, faculty and employees must always conduct themselves in accordance with MUN's respectful workplace policy and student code of conduct, Kachanoski wrote.

Memorial University has a large population of international students, and Kachanoski is urging members of the university community to educate themselves about the coranavirus outbreak. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

The coronavirus outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China late last year, and has since created anxiety around the globe.

Some Chinese cities have been quarantined, travel has been restricted and the borders in some countries have been tightened.

The outbreak has also fuelled incidents of xenophobia, including in western countries and North America, with reports of hostility toward Asians, including, reportedly, in St. John's.

Attempts to get reaction from members of the Chinese community in St. John's have also been unsuccessful.

There are 1,671 Asian students studying at MUN during the 2019-20 academic year, according to numbers released by MUN, with more than 400 of those from China.

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