A University of Cincinnati professor, John L. Ucker, who is an adjunct instructor in the university's engineering and applied sciences department, is currently on administrative leave for referring to COVID-19 as the "Chinese virus" in an email that was sent to a student.

He was put on leave with pay effective immediately on Friday, September 18—a day after the student, Evan Sotzing, posted the controversial email on Twitter that has gone viral on social media, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer.

University of Cincinnati
University of Cincinnati Wikimedia commons

The Controversial Email

The email reads, "For students testing positive for the Chinese virus, I will give no grade... You can read the info I sent to the class re: the torsion test." The 20-year-old student received this email after his girlfriend tested positive for the Coronavirus, causing him to be quarantined, as instructed by the university's health department.

As reported by WKRC, Sotzing said that he just wants the professor to apologize for his comments. He also said he was shocked that "anyone in power" would use such racist language. As of now the tweet by Sotzing was retweeted over 37,000 times and more than 2,000 people responded to the tweet, which also received more than 166,600 likes.

Chinese virus
University of Cincinnati professor sends controversial email to student Twitter

The university President Neville Pinto also tweeted on Friday, saying that "there is no place for bigotry in our community or any other. Every Bearcat deserves to feel welcome, respected, and supported. Greatness starts with inclusion. And inclusion starts with each of us."

But Ucker is not the only one who used the xenophobic language to address the virus, as on Tuesday, September 22 the US President Donald Trump once again referred Coronavirus as the "China Virus" during an address to the United Nations General Assembly. He said, "We have waged a fierce battle against the invisible enemy, the China virus, which has claimed countless lives in 188 countries."

'China Virus' and Racial Bias

UC Berkeley School of Public Health doctoral candidate Eli Michaels and Goldman School of Public Policy doctoral candidate Sean Darling-Hammond co-authored a study where they said that the racial bias against Asian Americans had been slowly decreasing since 2007. But their study found the bias increased after March 8, when people started to use terms like "China virus."

"The use of 'Chinese virus' and related terms had an immediate, measurable impact on collective implicit biases," said Michaels and Darling-Hammond. The researchers noticed that there was a 650 percent increase in Twitter retweets using such racial terms on March 8 and the next day there was an 800 percent increase in conservative news media articles.

The UC Berkeley researchers also said that they began their study after noticing a significant increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans. Over 2,500 hate crimes against Asian Americans have been reported since the Coronavirus outbreak.