University of California, Chinese Virus

March 2020
University of California (Public college or university)
Los Angeles, California, USA


Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
  • Incident Political Orientation:
  • Incident Responses:
  • Incident Status:
    No litigation
  • No protest Occured
  • Did not involve Speech Codes


The University California system released a guidance document prepared by its Council of Chief Diversity Officers that stated that university community members “do not use terms such as ‘Chinese Virus’ or other terms which cast either intentional or unintentional projections of hatred toward Asian communities, and do not allow the use of these terms by others.” In another section, it also requested members to “not resort or revert to unkind discussions about people, individuals or groups who may not be in your immediate social circle. The document is issued as a guidance document suggesting that it is not mandatory, but its use of the phrase “do not” suggests that it is a mandatory requirement. FIRE released a statement in response suggesting that the document will chill speech at the least due to the lack of clarity over whether the guidance has to be followed. At worst, FIRE fears that the guidance might be used as a basis to deny tenure to professors not following the edicts of the document, especially as now those applying for tenure must submit an “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” statement in their application, detailing their work to advance those values.