The principal of Queen’s University is calling for people to stop being discriminatory after students threw a coronavirus-themed party over the weekend.
As first reported by the Queen’s Journal, the event, which took place on Saturday night, featured students wearing medical masks and drinking Corona beers. A screenshot that appears to be from one attendee’s Instagram story showed two students drinking beer with the caption “INFECT ME DADDY.”
In a statement released Monday, Queen’s Principal Patrick Deane described the hysteria surrounding the virus as an “insidious social challenge.”
“Ignorantly ostracizing Chinese and Asian students will rip apart the beautiful tapestry of our international campus and must be repudiated by everyone,” he said.
An undergraduate trustee who attended the party has since apologized and resigned, according to the Queen’s Journal.
The event was reminiscent of a similarly tone-deaf party held in 2016, where white Queen’s students dressed in rice paddy hats, sombreros, and Arab head coverings. After the story attracted national attention, the university vowed to look into it.
Saturday’s party is just one in a string of incidents trumping up sinophobia around coronavirus, which has killed at least 566 people and infected more than 28,000, with confirmed cases in more than 25 countries.
On Wednesday, the Province newspaper ran a front page, all-caps headline that said “2ND CHINA VIRUS CASE IN B.C.” Thursday, alongside its coverage of the deadly flu, the paper ran a story on China’s “despicable” dog meat trade.
The Province’s editor-in-chief told VICE that hundreds of headlines, including those from the New York Times and Bloomberg, have used the term “China virus.” A recent cover from German magazine Der Spiegel said: “Corona-virus: Made in China.”
In an email exchange posted on Twitter, Munro told a concerned reader there was “no ill intent” behind the Province’s headline and that it simply meant to distinguish the region where the disease originated.
“Letter writers who attempt to raise such inaccurate and racist opinions are not considered for publication,” he said. (Over the summer, the paper published an op-ed arguing that ethnic diversity is ruining Canada.)
An academic paper written by York University professor Roger Keil, notes that the 2003 SARS outbreak was similarly called the “Chinese disease”—a term that stoked racist sentiments against Chinese people. As a result, “restaurants in the city’s three Chinatowns remained empty for weeks and close contact with Chinese citizens was avoided by others in public,” Keil wrote.
Anecdotally, Canadians and American of Chinese descent are reporting an uptick in racist encounters.
Andy Sue, who runs a flower shop in Toronto, told Global News a woman recently came into his shop and demanded to know if he’d recently been to Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.
According to a CNBC report, Asian Americans are being discriminated against by Uber drivers, who are wary of giving them rides for fear of contracting the virus.