'Distasteful and hurtful': Coronavirus-themed party condemned at University of Albany

With coronavirus sweeping across the world, it's easy to forget the epicenter of the disease, Wuhan. Wuhan can be compared to Pittsburgh or Chicago. USA TODAY

ALBANY, N.Y. – A group of Asian-American students attending the University at Albany are demanding the school open an investigation into a coronavirus-themed party hosted by students last weekend.

Video of the off-campus party was first posted on the Barstool Albany Instagram account Sunday night, prompting the university's Asian American Alliance to release a statement condemning the event and demanding an official apology.

On Thursday afternoon, the college confirmed the off-campus party and said it would investigate. The college said the event was not sanctioned by the university.

"The theme of this party was distasteful and hurtful and is not representative of UAlbany or its nearly 18,000 students," the college said in a statement.

The video, which has since been deleted, showed a bucket full of Corona beers and a person wearing a surgical mask. A caption attached to the video read, "Corona virus isn't gonna stop anyone from partying," according to WGY News Radio in Albany.

Nearby in the video was a white sheet marked with a biohazard symbol and two faces. One face had Xs for eyes, while the second was frowning and had straight lines for eyes, the station reported.

The college said Thursday that "any allegations of conduct violations will be investigated and addressed through the University’s disciplinary process.”

Barstool Albany has no affiliation with the university, but the Asian American Alliance said the party's theme was "completely insensitive."

"The real life affects (sic) of this virus has led to not only mass stereotyping of Asian people, but also hundreds of deaths across the world," the organization said in a statement via its Instagram page Monday.

Novel coronavirus – now referred to by the World Health Organization as COVID-19 – has infected more than 75,000 people worldwide and has resulted in over 2,300 deaths, mostly in China.

"Diseases that affect non-white populations are radicalized in a way that stems from the innate xenophobia of American society," the Asian American Alliance said in its statement.

The organization – which is made up the Chinese, Japanese and Korean student associations; Albany State Indian Alliance; and Liga Filipina – called for an investigation into the incident and urged the university to "protect Asian student's and scholars' physical health and mental health."

Shorty after the USA TODAY Network New York reached out the the university Thursday for comment, a campus-wide email was sent out to students condemning the party.

"As a diverse community with students, faculty and staff from all over the world, it is important that we treat everyone with dignity and respect," Clarence McNeill, the university's dean of students, said in the email.

"We should strive to listen, support and advocate for communities hardest hit by the coronavirus."

Follow Chad Arnold  on Twitter: @ChadGArnold

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2020/02/20/coronavirus-themed-party-university-albany-sparks-investigation/4825735002/

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