CINCINNATI — University of Cincinnati officials are looking into a situation in which a student claims an adjunct professor gave him a zero for not attending a lab after the student says his girlfriend tested positive for COVID-19.
UC student Evan Sotzing tweeted on Thursday that adjunct professor John Ucker gave him a zero for not attending an in-person lab after the Cincinnati Health Department instructed him to quarantine.
Sotzing attached a photo of Ucker’s email response, which says in part, “For students testing positive for the chinese virus, I will give no grade.”
My girlfriend tested positive for COVID and the University of Cincinnati's Health Department instructed me to not attend my in-person lab. Not only did my professor give me a zero for not going, but this was his response: pic.twitter.com/WYlbi5apdi— lil sauce (@_Sotzingg_) September 17, 2020
John Weidner, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, said university officials immediately looked into the situation to see whether the school’s Return to Campus guidelines were followed.
“The adjunct instructor involved has a routine policy of allowing any student to forego one of the lab tests so that grade will not be recorded,” Weidner said in a statement. “Academic accommodations are necessary to safeguard the health and safety of our students, and faculty are encouraged to be flexible with attendance policies and other aspects supporting academic progress – particularly for students in isolation and quarantine.”
Weidner said he referred the matter in which Ucker called COVID-19 the “chinese virus” to the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Access.
“These types of xenophobic comments and stigmatizations around location or ethnicity are more than troubling,” Weidner said in a statement. “We can better protect and care for all when we speak about COVID-19 with both accuracy and empathy – something we should all strive for.”
The university placed the instructor on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the review, according to university spokeswoman M. B. Reilly. According to an email obtained by WCPO, another instructor will handle Ucker's courses in the meantime.
WCPO has reached out to both the professor and the student for comment and will update this story.