I Am Not A Virus: AIA Fights COVID-19 Stigma

Article written by Elizabeth Bobo.

Prior to Goucher College closing for the semester, the Asian Identity Affiliation (AIA) hosted “I Am Not A Virus,” an open discussion about the facts and stereotypes behind COVID-19. AIA is a student-run organization that held this event to spread awareness to the Goucher community. 

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The meeting was broken up into two parts. The first informed attendees on what the Coronavirus is, the symptoms, precautions to take, and how to prepare for impending complications the virus may cause. The second focused on the social impacts the virus has caused for the Asian community and the world as a whole.

A common misconception about Coronavirus is that the Asian community is responsible for the spread of the virus because it originated in Wuhan, China. This has created a harmful stereotype of the Asian community. These misconceptions filtered down to the Asian students at Goucher College.

“After the virus started to get worse, me as well as some other members began to notice people swerving around us as we walked on VanMeter, or just deliberately trying not to come into contact with us” said AIA leader, Claire Anderson. 

In addition to being avoided, AIA vice president, Yuchen Ding, received death threats after commenting on a celebrity’s post with facts about COVID-19. Ding shared this incident at the event to start a discussion of how media has dealt with COVID-19. Social media posts and news headlines have directly linked the virus to China and Chinese people. 

With AIA being a new club, founded this semester, the meeting was well received with 25 Goucher students attending. After AIA leaders spoke about the facts and shared personal stories of how they are being affected, they opened the discussion up for questions. Their goal was to have an in-depth talk about the impact of COVID-19, other than people getting sick. 

Once the meeting was over, the club provided those who attended with different links to information on the virus, as well as step-by-step guides on how to avoid panicking and stay healthy. 

“I believe the people who came responded well to the discussion and left the meeting feeling more informed than when they came. I don’t think people realize, but we are also nervous about this whole situation, and are trying our best to deal with it just like everyone else,” said Anderson. 

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