Prof who referred to COVID-19 as ‘Chinese Virus’ placed on leave for semester, future with university uncertain

In September, University of Cincinnati professor John Ucker used the term “Chinese virus” in an email with an individual student.

After a screenshot of the email went viral on social media, the university launched an investigation into Ucker.

The university recently announced it will place Ucker on leave for the semester, and his relationship with the university is currently uncertain.

After a University of Cincinnati professor used the term “Chinese virus” in an email, he was put on leave for the semester.

In September, John Ucker labeled COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” in an email to an individual student, who was required to quarantine for two weeks after his girlfriend tested positive for the virus, although his test returned negative.

The student, Evan Sotzing, posted a screenshot of Ucker’s email on Twitter. As of the time of this writing, the tweet had gained more than 164,000 likes and more than 37,000 retweets.

As Campus Reform previously reported, the University of Cincinnati Dean of Engineering and Applied Science John Weidner stated that the school was “looking into” the matter, turning over the investigation to the school’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Access. 

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The university placed Ucker on leave in response to the investigation, The News-Record student newspaper reported. 

“The results of the investigation indicate a violation of our Non-Discrimination Policy based on a medical condition and failure to provide an accommodation,” said dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science John Weidner said in a statement.

Weidner further stated that “the term ‘Chinese virus’ did not meet the threshold to be designated harassment. However, it did represent poor judgment,” though it “caused offense to members of our community and distracted from the learning environment.”

Weidner stated that he would be placing “Professor Ucker on administrative leave for the duration of the semester” as he contemplates his “future with the college.”

[RELATED: USC admin defends handling of prof who used Chinese word that sounds like racial slur]

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Cincinnati and Ucker for comment but did not hear back in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft