Three universities in Italy have released statements in response to a group of Italian students who were captured in a viral video mocking and laughing at an Asian American family on vacation.
The trio were recorded by TikTok user Mahnoor Euceph as they were riding a train from Lake Como to Milan on April 16. Euceph, a Pakistani film director, was accompanied by her half-Chinese boyfriend and his Chinese mother and white father.
The video was uploaded to TikTok on Monday and has since garnered over 17.4 million views. In the recording, the three women are seen looking in the direction of Euceph and repeatedly laughing as they try to mimic the Chinese language.
“They were the most calm during the video but you can still hear them saying ni hao and get a vibe of their general attitude,” she wrote in the video’s description. “Never in my life have I experienced such blatant racism. My boyfriend said the same thing.”
“I expected better from the younger generation. After I shared this on IG, many of my Asian friends shared their stories of experiencing racism in Italy and Europe. America may have its race issues, but Europe is 20 years behind.”
The video quickly went viral across multiple social media platforms, with viewers condemning the girls’ actions.
“I’m glad these mean girls are getting called out. It happens so much more often than we think,” one viewer commented.
“The way it literally costs 0$ to be kind and these people couldn’t even afford that,” another person said.
Social media users quickly identified the trio’s Instagram accounts and where they go to school.
Users claimed that the women are Elisa Tortora from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Margherita Gentile from IULM University and Lucrezia De Vecchis from The University of Milano-Bicocca.
On Tuesday, Euceph shared screenshots of the girls’ social media accounts in a separate TikTok, which has nearly 6 million views as of this writing.
“People still doesn’t realize how powerful internet can be,” one user wrote.
“I just love how the social medias these days will literally expose everyone,” another user shared.
As many social media users claimed to have contacted the women’s current schools to inform them of the incident, the universities issued separate statements on their official Instagram accounts.
All three universities — Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, IULM University and The University of Milano-Bicocca — reiterated their schools’ values of inclusion and condemned all forms of racism and discrimination.
However, IULM University went a step further and informed the public that they will not “punish” but “educate its students.”
Our student involved in the video that went viral has spontaneously and publicly apologized for the gesture she made, taking full responsibility for her actions. To those who have called for her expulsion from the university, IULM replies that, just as our university condemns all forms of racism, we cannot tolerate such fury, which hides within itself the equally serious germ of totalitarianism. IULM always leaves the door of dialogue and communication open, because the ultimate goal of a university is not to punish, but to educate its students, accompanying them on a path of personal growth so that they become better women and men every day.
The two other universities are in the process of conducting investigations into the incident and have not made clear what actions they may be taking nor what consequences the students might face.
On Wednesday, Euceph updated followers that Gentile had personally reached out to her on Instagram to apologize, claiming that she had “no intention of making fun of [her], let alone [her] ethnicity or nationality.”
I assure you that we repudiate racism just as much as you do and I think that all the tags and the comments we’re receiving are just carrying it forward rather than opposing it. You are free to keep sharing our videos on the internet if you feel this is the right way to spread your message, but believe me when I say that this has been having the exact opposite effect: the hate and the bullying we’re receiving are just giving real racist people the chance to pour their hate on us without hearing explanations.
However, Euceph accused Gentile of “trying to manipulate and gaslight” her, saying that the apology was insincere.
“You and I both know that the worst of your behavior is not even on the video,” Euceph replied.
Next time I hope you’ll think twice before you scream “NI HAO” at Chinese people or call a brown person a monkey or try to intimidate and mock foreigners. You ruined your personal reputation and as a representative of your country, you ruined your country’s reputation. You also ruined our trip. My boyfriend’s Chinese mom is in her 60s. She has seen a lot of hate towards Asians in her life, and at her age, she does not deserve this. You ARE the real racists, and you have a lot of work to do on yourself. I hope you will learn from this and take responsibility for how you acted.
Many viewers agreed with Euceph, saying that the woman was “only sorry for getting caught.”
“That’s not even an apology. They’re pointing out ‘how you feel’ instead of acknowledging what THEY MADE you feel. The gaslighting is incredible,” one user commented.
“Hilarious that everytime one of these people are called out, all of a sudden it’s ‘all love’ and ‘don’t spread hate,’” another user wrote.
Euceph thanked supporters and condemned hate comments regarding the women’s appearances, noting that the global community should focus on racism and accountability.