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University of San Diego professor investigated, accused of using 'offensive language' when referring to people from China

Posted at 6:05 AM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 09:56:51-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A faculty member at the University of San Diego School of Law is under investigation for allegedly making a blog post using offensive language referring to people from China.

In a letter to students, signed by the dean of the School of Law on campus, he explained the post was concerning the origin of COIVD-19, using offensive language in reference to people from China. The dean said the blog is not hosted by the university.

Students told ABC 10News they've made formal complaints about the professor several times in the last year. The most recent post, they say, was made last week.

The teacher has been identified by several students, but ABC 10News is not naming him since school officials have not confirmed his identity.

ABC 10News has reached out to him but has not heard back.

Full letter sent to USD students:

Dear Law Students,

It has come to my attention that a faculty member made a blog post concerning the origin of COVID-19, using offensive language in reference to people from China. As I wrote to you in a previous message, COVID-19 has been associated with an alarming increase in hate crimes directed against the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community, with racist commentary relating to the virus and its origins. While the blog is not hosted by the University of San Diego, these forms of bias, wherever they occur, have an adverse impact on our community. It is especially concerning when the disparaging language comes from a member of our community.

Scientists are investigating the exact origins of COVID-19. Whatever the realm for debate by experts about this scientific question, there is no place for language that demeans a particular national group. Such language undermines our shared commitment to creating an inclusive, welcoming community.

A core value of the University of San Diego School of Law is that all members of the community must be treated with dignity and respect. University policies specifically prohibit harassment, including the use of epithets, derogatory comments, or slurs based on race or national origin, among other categories. I have received formal complaints relating to the faculty member’s conduct, and in accordance with university procedures, there will be a process to review whether university or law school policies have been violated.

I will be meeting as soon as possible with leaders of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association and the Student Bar Association to discuss further steps. In addition, I will continue to work with faculty, students, staff, and alumni over the course of this spring and beyond to develop and implement plans to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion at the law school. This occurrence reminds us again of the importance and urgency of this project. I will be sending you more information about plans as they develop.

It is clear that we have much work to do together to repair and enhance our community. That work must begin by acknowledging the harm caused by this kind of demeaning language.

Sincerely yours,
Robert Schapiro Dean and Professor of Law University of San Diego School of Law