Editor’s note: This message was sent to the entire Colorado State University community by CSU President Joyce McConnell on March 2.
Dear CSU Colleagues, Students, and University Community Members,
I look forward to sharing some updates and news from around our university with you later this week and am excited to also share invitations to join us in effecting the Courageous Strategic Transformation of Colorado State University.
But today I need to update all of you on the coronavirus strain that is now a public health concern world-wide; because there are many strains of coronavirus, this one is being referred to specifically as COVID-19. I know that many of you are frightened and unsure. I want to assure you that we are doing all that we can to address your concerns.
• Colorado State University and our Health Network (CSUHN) are working closely and in real-time with partners ranging from the Larimer County Health Department and first responders across the city and county, and the City of Fort Collins to the CSU System Offices and the Colorado Department of Higher Education to stay abreast of developments, news, and advisories.
• We are sourcing of-the-minute information and best practices from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other national and international public health organizations.
• Our Office of International Programs is monitoring developing situations in countries where we know that we have students studying abroad, and we are monitoring countries where we know our faculty and staff are conducting their work. Several offices are communicating broadly with impacted members of our campus community, and individually with specific students and their families as needed per students’ unique situations.
• We are planning proactively for scenarios that might impact our students’ ability to attend classes, our faculty’s ability to teach or conduct research, or the ability of our staff to come to work.
• We have convened a Task Force of top-level experts from across both CSU and the CSUHN to ensure that we are ready for whatever local, national and international impacts the coronavirus has in the months ahead.
My email was nonstop this past weekend with rapid-fire updates and collaborative plans from our many, many expert faculty and staff who are focused on this situation and its evolving effect on our campuses, our community, and our world. I am so grateful to all these dedicated individuals and confident that they will continue to go above and beyond for all of us.
Our Public Safety Team and Health Network will continue to keep our university updated; please watch your email for information from them. Here are some key links that I urge you to click on now and to bookmark for future updates, depending on the nature of your concerns:
• We have a webpage about our university’s response, and it includes important health and travel information: safety.colostate.edu/coronavirus.
• Our state and Larimer County Department of Health and the CDC continue to advise that the most important steps one can take to avoid getting sick from any virus – including the flu – are the best steps to take if you’re concerned about COVID-19: wash your hands often with soap and water, cover your cough and sneeze, and stay home if you are sick. If you want more information about the virus and staying well: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf
• If you want to know more about the local county’s public health plans: www.larimer.org/health/communicable-disease/coronavirus-covid-19
Finally, I want to repeat something I asked all of you several weeks ago — with an additional request. I asked you in January to please be mindful that our Chinese students may have family and friends in China about whom they are worried. Since January, this coronavirus has spread worldwide. Let’s be mindful and support all of the members of the CSU community who may have friends and families in the countries impacted. We always care for one another, and Rams take care of Rams. I urge you all to make a special effort to reach out to these members of our community right now, ask what they need, and show that you care.
I ask that of you again. I also urge you to remember that COVID-19 is a public health issue. It is not the fault of any person, any country, or any ethnic group. We have been hearing from some of our students, faculty and staff who identify as Asian and Asian American that they have been subjected to hateful and xenophobic treatment these last few weeks. This treatment — whether via words or actions, publicly or privately expressed — is racist and wrong. Please, care for one another. If you see or hear this kind of behavior, step in and stop it if you can.
Moreover, if you’ve been targeted by race-based behavior, we have resources to help you. You can submit a report to supportandsafety.colostate.edu/incidents-of-bias/. The Asian Pacific American Cultural Center is located in room 333 in the Lory Student Center.
You can find community and support with your fellow students and professional staff. We have “Story Circle” on Mondays from 4 to 5:30 p.m.in APACC. It is a weekly supportive space for those who identify as Native Hawai’ian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, Asian American, Desi, and Mixed Race. International students are welcome to our center as well. Students who identify as international can also find support at the Office of International Programs in Laurel Hall. Advisors are available daily for open advising Monday-Friday, 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. or you may call (970) 491-5917 for assistance.
With deepest hope for the continued wellbeing of our campus, our community, and our world.
Joyce McConnell, President
Colorado State University