Novel coronavirus information

June 1, 2020

Supporting our students (Message to instructors)

This message was sent to instructors across the University of Washington.

Dear Colleagues,

This has been an extremely difficult period for us all. Again, we thank you for all the hard work, creativity and dedication you’ve shown while teaching, advising and supporting your students during this pandemic, even as you deal with stresses of childcare, eldercare or care of sick members in your own households. We are deeply appreciative of the compassion and caring that you have shown for all members of our community.

Today we are asking you to consider that while we are together as a community, some are being affected more than others. The coronavirus is having a disproportionate effect on the health of communities of color throughout our state and country. Moreover, in the last few weeks we have also been witness to the stark toll of racism, exemplified through graphic and horrific violence toward Black Americans.

Witnessing such events, even secondhand, can have very real effects on the psychological and physical well-being of all of us, but especially so on those who can most identify with the victims of violence, as described so poignantly by a Black UW alumna in President Cauce’s recent message. This trauma comes on top of the daily toll of the racism and racial bias that many people of color experience on a regular basis, magnifying its effects.

We are writing to urge you, in these final weeks of the quarter, as assignments become due and exams are taken, to be especially responsive to the needs that your students, especially those who are members of the Black community, may have for accommodations as we conclude the school year. Accommodations might include extra time to finish assignments or providing a “final examination optional” pathway, for example.

We also want to acknowledge that our Black faculty and faculty of color are also disproportionately affected, as they not only struggle with their own reactions, but are in positions where they are more likely to be called upon to support our students who are suffering the most. We urge you to reach out to your chairs and/or deans if you are in need of any accommodations, deadline extensions or other support.

These have been challenging weeks and months for all of us, and through concerted community effort we’ve made progress in fighting COVID-19. We need to put that same concerted effort — research, strategy, dedication and action — into the fight against the racism that is seemingly endemic to our nation, yet does not have to be.

Thank you for your support of our students and best wishes in these final weeks of the quarter.

Ana Mari Cauce
Professor of Psychology

Mark A. Richards
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor, Earth and Space Sciences

Joseph Janes
Chair, Faculty Senate
Associate Professor, Information School

Robin Angotti
Vice Chair, Faculty Senate
Associate Professor of Mathematics, UW Bothell