By Saba Mann
A controversial video posted on a prominent Barstool Albany Instagram account drew swift backlash from cultural groups and students of all kinds on the UAlbany campus.
The video showed a bucket full of Corona beer, with the camera then panning over to a cloth with the word “Coronavirus” and a biohazard symbol painted on it. The camera then switches to selfie mode so that the cameraman can be seen wearing a surgical mask.
“Coronavirus isn't gonna stop anyone from partying,” was the caption of the video, posted last week by Albany Barstool.
Albany Barstool, which is affiliated with Barstool Sports, has since removed the video, but it is still posted on the SUNY Barstool Instagram account at the time of this publication at https://www.instagram.com/p/B8RWTQUJ1gr/.
The UAlbany Asian American Alliance posted a response on their Instagram, urging the University to take action.
“The real-life effects of this virus has led to not only mass stereotyping of Asian people, but also hundreds of deaths across the world,” reads the post. “Diseases that affect non-white populations are radicalized in a way that stems from the innate xenophobia of American society.”
The Alliance is a coordinator of the five Asian cultural organizations on campus: the Albany State Indian Alliance, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Student Associations, as well as Liga Filipina.
They’re demanding the university investigate the group responsible for the party, and that the president inform students about the importance of preventing racism in campus spaces.
UALBANY STUDENTS REACT
“The fact that people believe it was okay to have a party mocking this disease with attendees coming in masks is a reflection of the innate xenophobia and racism of American society,” said Junior Amy Zhang, who is affiliated with a cultural organization mentioned above. “If this disease was disproportionately impacting a Western country like France, it would be #PrayForFrance and the Western attitude would be of sympathy.”
This incident is not simply relegated to the Albany community, however.
An article by NBC cites similar instances where Asian, specifically Chinese students were targeted by other students or the university itself, despite showing no symptoms of the virus. The colleges named in the article included Barnard, ASU, and Columbia.
“The death toll is nearly the death toll of 9/11. I must ask, what would our reaction be if a group of students threw a 9/11 party where people showed up in white masks and hard hats,” said Zhang. “I just hope we can learn to be more empathetic to others even if they look nothing like us or have nothing in common with us.”
As of Feb. 21, 2,239 people have died and there are over 75,000 cases of the virus in China alone, according to the World Health Organization.
35 cases have been confirmed in the United States, according to the New York Times.
The Dean of Students, Clarence McNeill, sent a university-wide email on Thursday saying they had advised everyone to exercise caution in regards to social media posts about the virus.
“We should strive to listen, support and advocate for communities hardest hit by the coronavirus,” read Dean McNeill’s statement.
Students are encouraged to contact the University Police Department at 518-442-3131 in regard to discriminatory behavior.