Reginald Stewart headshot

Reginald Stewart is the vice president for Diversity and Inclusion at Iowa State. In his position, Stewart works on inclusion initiatives on campus.

Iowa State’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion hopes to be a resource for students, faculty and staff by informing them about COVID-19 and combating the stigma. 

Their office has added a page to their website entitled, “COVID-19 Resources,” in efforts of keeping campus informed. The website has everything from resources and webinars to professional development opportunities, news updates and identity-based support.

Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Reginald Stewart said it’s important to recognize the multiple components of this pandemic. Whether it be health care, economics, race, etc., this virus is hurting a large number of people in many different ways. 

When looking at the pandemic and issues it has caused, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion knew they wanted to help the people the office was created to serve. They began by combating all racial stigmas attached to the COVID-19 virus.

“That seems to be human nature, we just have to find someone to blame. Because the earliest cases were found in Wuhan, China, the idea becomes that it’s the ‘Chinese virus’ or ‘the China virus,' and that stigma stuck,” Stewart said.

Stewart said paying attention to the stigma is critical in order to combat it, which is why the Office of Diversity and Inclusion found it important to create their page on COVID-19 resources. Stewart pointed out that the webpage was not created to condemn people, but to be used as an educational tool. 

“I think there’s another component, it wasn’t just combating the stigma, it was calling attention to the mortality rates in black and brown communities and low-income communities,” Stewart said. “This virus and pandemic, it impacts all of us, but it impacts all of us differently.”

Stewart mentioned the rebound effect of those who come from already low-income or disenfranchised communities during times like this, whether it be a recession or a national health emergency. 

“We already had people that were barely making it and as the recession kicks in, people start getting laid off. It has a bigger ripple effect in communities that were already vulnerable,” Stewart said.

Identifying the rebound effect is another important part of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s webpage. Stewart said it wasn’t just the stigma that has been identified, it was also acknowledging mortality rates in different races and economic classes.

“The reality is the impacts are different and it’s our responsibility as a university to call that to the attention of everyone,” Stewart said.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has been making efforts to widely distribute their webpage as a resource during this pandemic. 

Stewart said their office’s webpage was a way to say, “not only are we aware of this, but we’re trying to bring more attention to it.”

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