"Members of our own community have encountered these types of comments as well," Guskiewicz said in the statement.
In the message, Guskiewicz denounced prejudice toward the Asian community.
"This behavior is inconsistent with Carolina’s values, which are to celebrate and embrace diversity, equity and inclusion and their benefits, as well as to care for one another and provide for each other’s well-being," he said in the statement.
The message encouraged those who have faced discrimination or harassment to contact the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office and University Office for Diversity and Inclusion.
"The Chinese Virus"
Sophomore Valerie Nguyen said calling COVID-19 the "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus" is one act she's seen that perpetuates harmful stereotypes.
Politicians and community leaders across the United States, including President Donald Trump, have referred to COVID-19 as the "Chinese virus."
Nguyen said calling the virus by this name makes Asians a scapegoat.
“The virus could have originated anywhere,” Nguyen said. “It just happened to originate in China. Swine flu isn’t called the American virus.”
Experiences of Discrimination
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.
UNC alumnus Mackenzie Kwok was late to a comedy show in Brooklyn when the hosts called her out from the stage. It was late February, when the first cases of COVID-19 began sprouting up in America.
“What kind of Asian are you?” the host asked.
Kwok said she responded that she was Chinese, and the host turned her response into a bit.
She said no one in the audience laughed, and she responded with a dramatized cough.
She said she sees today’s discrimination stem from stereotypes of Chinese people being dirty and illicit, and connecting that to a sickness.
“I’ve heard all the stereotypes,” Kwok said. “The Chinese people eat dogs, you can’t trust what you eat at Chinese restaurants, people suspecting their cats go missing in their neighborhoods (because of Chinese people).”
Asian American Students Association President June Yom said the organization held a COVID-19 and xenophobia talk and released a statement saying that executive board members would be available as a support method.
“With AASA, (the discrimination is) not so much as Asian American students, but more international students,” Yom said. “A lot of our members have parents that are first-generation immigrants to the United States. Us being Asian American students, we have more a privilege of acting more American.”
Alumna Jisoo Yu, who lived in Korea for 11 years, said her friends in Asia are afraid of visiting America because of their fear of violence due to the pandemic.
“We put some Western perceptions on a pedestal to a certain extent,” Yu said.“ I think it takes a hit to people that want to explore that part of the world and how they will be perceived when they go out. They’re Asians, not Asian Americans, so they don't have a lot of insight on how the Asian American experience is.”
Although Yu has American citizenship, she said she is still uncomfortable calling herself an Asian American and has always referred to herself as Asian. She said she doesn’t feel like she fully belongs to either country. During the pandemic, Yu said she feels even more of a disconnect to the rest of the country.
“I feel 100 percent forced to not breathe, talk at all, or clear my throat or I’m scared people will look at me or think that I'm affected,” Yu said. “Just because I go to the grocery store and some people give me dirty looks for no reason. I get scared.”
UNC alumna Rachel Yuan said fear of discrimination and hate crimes can force people to take preemptive measures. For example, she said her mother didn’t allow her to place a headrest shaped like a panda in her car.
“Someone might look inside and then see you’re Chinese,” her mother said in Mandarin. “They might do something.”
Yuan said she had never been concerned about hate crimes happening against Asian people before, but did take note of a United Airlines incident in which an Asian doctor was forcibly removed from the plane.
"In the past, there have been regular microaggressions, but I’ve never been worried for my physical self,” Yuan said. “It’s a privileged thing to say.”