A transportation company which provides bus services to students of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign recently earned backlash after sending out a racially charged message to its mailing list.
In its Christmas break advertisement sent out on Saturday, Suburban Express assured potential customers that they will be seated next to “passengers like you”, without feeling “like you’re in China when you are on our buses.”
The anti-Chinese diss is reportedly in reference to the large population of international students at the University of Illinois, the student-run publication The Daily Illini reports.
But it gets worse.
In a lame attempt at an apology, the company would later send a follow-up email stating it “made a remark based on the fact that our competitor mostly handles Chinese international students.”
The competitor’s name was not specified but bus company Peoria Charter is known to make stops at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The leaked email also noted how the message was not intended to be “a slap in the face of all non-Caucasians.”
But then it went on to criticize how the University handles enrollment, stating that the school should focus on providing education to Illinois citizens.
“U of I mismanagement over the past few decades has put them in a financial bind,” the email said. “To solve the problem, it admits large numbers of international students who pay higher tuition.”
The entire email did not acknowledge any wrongdoing and instead shifted the blame to the University for making the campus un-American. It further stated that the University places a “variety of burdens on domestic students.”
After a litany of xenophobic statements, the company concluded with “we did not intend to offend half the planet.” As the email titled “Apology” did not include any actual apology, it further angered a lot of people, especially within the University of Illinois community.
The Daily Illini also wrote a fiery editorial titled “Shame on Suburban Express” slamming Suburban Express, calling it “a company that has nothing better to do than sit around on a computer and terrorize students.”
It also encouraged students to use other forms of transportation “rather than support a vile company such as Suburban Express.”
Meanwhile, Asian Pacific American Coalition wrote a statement posted on Facebook calling Suburban Express’ remarks as “dehumanizing and disgusting to our Asian classmates and friends.” It pointed out that 1. “Not all students that look Asian are Asian-international.” and 2. “Not all students that look Asian are Chinese.”
The group then called for a boycott of the company’s services and advised supporters to use alternate means of transportation instead.