Our Commitment to Inclusion during the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As Berklee begins to adapt to new normals in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is committed to supporting our entire Berklee community by leading the charge to foster a culture that is inclusive, respectful, and safe for everyone in our College, Conservatory, Valencia, and online environments.

The events of the past few weeks have ushered in a deep sense of alarm and uncertainty. In the face of these fears, fostering a sense of safety and belonging starts with supporting each other—especially those in our community who are facing bias, discrimination, and attacks based on their identity. In the case of COVID-19, it is our Asian, particularly our Chinese and Chinese American peers, who have been targeted by harmful and dangerous stereotypes permeating our daily interactions, social circles, and media coverage of the virus.  

Watch Asian Americans open up about their recent experiences in this 'USA Today' segment.

Throughout history, disease outbreaks with reported origins in countries other than our own have fueled racist and xenophobic rhetoric and beliefs, marginalizing groups based on physical appearance. Mainstream U.S. and European stereotypes about Chinese people harboring disease date back centuries. These stereotypes not only threaten Asian and Asian American communities, but they can also hinder appropriate responses to public health threats.

Given our diverse Berklee community, the teams in the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion request that we practice community care as we move forward. We offer the following tips and resources to assist in keeping our community safe by shifting the narrative around COVID-19.

If you find yourself worrying about interactions with Asian community members, please consider:

  • educating yourself about the history of discrimination towards Asian communities as it relates to disease. Check out this episode from NPR’s Code Switch podcast, “When Xenophobia Spreads Like a Virus,” or this advisory from the Asian American Journalists Association, offering much-needed context to media coverage of the virus.
  • refraining from making broad generalizations and assumptions.
  • staying up-to-date with new information and maintaining perspective.
  • practicing community care and empathy.

If you have experienced bias or discrimination, please consider:

  • how experiences of racism and xenophobia can induce stress or trauma. Discrimination-related stress has been linked to changes in behavior, decreased sleep, increased anxiety, and many other stress responses. The 2015 Stress in America report focused specifically on the health impacts of discrimination: they're very real. But you are not alone. It's okay to seek help.
  • seeking support from Berklee support services including the Center for Diversity, Equity, and InclusionHealth and Wellness; and International Student Services
  • reporting incidents of discrimination, bias, or harassment to the chief equity officer/Title IX coordinator at equity@berklee.edu or by phone at 617-747-3156.

As we journey into the virtual world, our team is excited to support and celebrate our diverse campus community by hosting engagement opportunities, featuring community highlights, and sharing resources through our social media platforms on Facebook and Instagram. We will also continue to offer consultations, meetings, and direct support for students, faculty, and staff online.

We encourage campus community members to continue being alert to updates from Berklee’s COVID-19 task force as well as those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you would like to speak with someone directly, email the Diversity and Inclusion team at diversityandinclusion@berklee.edu, the Equity team at equity@berklee.edu, or call our main extension at 617-747-3156.

Please take care of yourselves and others, utilize your support systems, and seek help as needed. Let us move forward with an ethic of care, together.