The University of Dallas community called out a professor on the first day of school for calling COVID-19 the “China Virus” in his syllabus.
What happened: Leeann Hutson, a 1990 UD alumna, posted a picture of Dr. William Atto’s American Civilization I class syllabus on Aug. 25, the same day the professor distributed the outline for his class’ policies and procedures, according to The University News.
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- “A student that I mentored and recruited to attend UD was confronted with this,” Hutson wrote in a UD Alumni Facebook group. “This is an Asian student who now feels unwelcome at our alma mater. My student is now afraid of what will happen next. I’m deeply ashamed.”
- In the syllabus’ “Policies and Procedures” section, Dr. Atto explained administrators would only deal with quarantine issues on a case-by-case basis.
- “Only an official EMAIL from the Dean’s office will suffice for quarantine status due to the China Virus,” one point in the paper read. “Only an official EMAIL from Dr. Rodriguez will suffice for excused illnesses unrelated to the China Virus,” the following point said.
Revision: In a statement, President Jonathan Sanford said Dr. Atto immediately revised his syllabus after learning that he had offended some of his students by using the term “China Virus.“
- “Dear students, it has come to my attention that the syllabus I handed out yesterday had language regarding Covid that was inconsistent with University of Dallas policy, so I have attached a revised syllabus to bring into accord with that policy,” Dr. Atto wrote in his email sent to students the following day.
- On Aug. 27, the Asian Student Association released a statement on Instagram calling the use of “China Virus” in a learning environment “inappropriate not only to Asian American students but also to all minority students.”
- “By using ‘China-virus’ as a way to address COVID-19, it promotes discrimination against Asian Americans since it condemns them to be the cause of the virus,” the ASA’s statement read.
Surprised: Professor Susan Hanssen, in her op-ed in The College Fix, claimed the faculty was not aware of UD’s policy on how to reference COVID-19, adding that if they do have one, “it certainly was not circulated before faculty drafted their syllabi in August.”
- Hanssen, the chair of the History Department at UD, claimed no students approached Dr. Atto with their concerns. “If they had, they might have discovered that this was a downright decent human being — a pro-life, Christian family man who has dedicated his life to teaching young people about history,” the professor added.
- “I can additionally confirm that no student, parent or alumni has approached me with their concern about one of the faculty members in my department,” Hanssen said in the op-ed. She was also not informed of any civil rights complaints against Dr. Atto.
Featured Image via University of Dallas