In the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, two scientists from the Poznań University of Medical Sciences – prof. Michał Nowicki, PhD, and Piotr Rzymski, PhD – wrote an open letter to the academic world calling on the universities to proactively develop policies countering discrimination related to the virus.
The letter was published on 20 March 2020 by the prestigious Science Magazine in open-access mode and can be found on the webpage https://science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6484/1313.1/. It includes good practices that could be introduced by the higher education institutions to lessen COVID-19 prejudice.
The publication indicates among other things that the preventive measures taken by the universities should include transparency about the disease status, data gathering, and direction about appropriate behaviour, as well as issuing reassuring statements about the local COVID-19 situation.
Some of the other recommendations concern launching social media campaigns in the form of infographics or videos supporting students most vulnerable to discrimination, and issuing clear notices that any COVID-19-related prejudice will not be tolerated. According to the authors of the letter, University leaders should also provide encouragement to students and employees to offer extra support and kindness to international students during the epidemic.
In response to the publication, a number of higher education institutions in Poland including e.g. Warsaw University of Technology, have already launched programmes of monitoring and prevention of discriminatory behaviours related to the coronavirus.
Besides sharing good practices from our region in Poland, Wielkopolska Region Brussels Office is also interested in knowing good practices from other parts of Europe. For example, if similar initiatives are undertaken by universities in your region, we can work together to facilitate expert networking. If you have any information or ideas that you would like to share with us in this context, please send an email to Ewa Chomicz, EU Policy Officer at Wielkopolska Region Brussels Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Poznań University of Medical Sciences