Several students at Washington University in St. Louis took to a chatroom to complain about Asians “invading” a study room on campus, screen shots have revealed.
In a Facebook post on Oct. 3, undergraduate research assistant Seo Han-ju exposed a screenshot of the conversation, saying that she’s “tired” of being seen as a foreigner.
“Thanks for the reminder that no matter my citizenship, the years I’ve spent in America, and my proficiency in English, I’m always going to a foreigner,” Seo wrote. “No matter how much we excel in our careers, achieve incredible things, and work to the point of utter exhaustion we’re still unwanted.”
“Go ahead and love my culture, love my food, and love my music; call me when I’m welcome. I’m tired.”
As seen in the screenshot, one student questioned why Asians had been “invading” their study room, with two others echoing the same sentiment.
Two students attempted to break the conversation.
Two others suggested finding another place to study.
After receiving initial feedback, Seo pointed out that she decided to keep the names of the students uncovered not because she wants them to be “harassed, expelled, or attacked in any way,” but because she wants them to be accountable for their words.
“While I would love for this dialogue and conversation to continue, I would like to address by decision to keep the names of said students uncovered. I will fully admit that I had little context on the situation. I was sent this image by a friend, and the words cut a little too close to home. I did not leave their names, however, so that they could be harassed, expelled, or attacked in anyway (I went ahead and deleted any comments that linked directly to their personal accounts).
“What I wanted was accountability. If the students were willing to explain the situation I would be willing to listen.”
In an update, Seo said that one of the students had reached out to apologize. She also encouraged others to keep the discussion going in their own social circles.
“One of the students involved has reached out to me directly and apologized. I am brainstorming ways to take this conversation beyond this image, to reflect on the bigger picture of our place as Asian Americans not only at Washu but in America as a whole.
“Let’s keep the dialogue going. Talk to your friends, decompress with someone you trust, and listen intently. I’ve been in several conversations over the past 24 hours and not all of them have been supportive, which I completely understand. What’s important is that we learn from this experience, become more aware, and grow both as individuals and as a community.”
Seo’s post has received hundreds of reactions to date, with many expressing support and slamming the students’ behavior.
After hearing about the incident, Washington University held an open discussion to address the issue.
The university maintained that such messages are “inconsistent” with its goal of “creating an inclusive and diverse environment.”
In a follow-up post, Seo thanked everyone who expressed support and reiterated that she only wanted her voice to be heard.
“I have been relatively silent since my post last Tuesday, and in that time I have been in some deep reflection, conversations, and wrestling with myself and others. I was exposed to both the highest praise for my courage to speak up and cutting backlash for the choice that I made. I do not think I deserve either one of these. I am neither a hero or a bad person, I am just someone who wanted to be heard. So thank you to those who listened, who cared, and stood by me.”
Seo wrapped the whole saga inspiring fellow Asians to embrace their identity.
“My biggest takeaway from this entire ordeal can my summarized in five words: Asians deserve their own narrative. We are so much more than the model minority stereotype. We deserve more than supporting roles and being the butt of the joke. We are so much more diverse, complex, and unique than what people have tried to make us seem, and we are worthy to be heard.”
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