At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a bus company that shuttles between college campuses and the Chicago area was called out for its racially charged ad, targeted at the number of Chinese students attending the university.
According to screenshots provided by a university spokeswoman, Suburban Express’s ad – sent Saturday via email – was originally publicizing routes being offered during the U. of I.’s Christmas break. The ad listed 11 benefits of choosing the Champaign-based company for trips from Urbana-Champaign to various Chicago suburbs. The seventh “perk,” read:
“Passengers like you. You won’t feel like you’re in China when you’re on our buses.”
As you can imagine, not many took kindly to the ad and the company quickly responded with a second email entitled “Apology.”
“We made a remark based on the fact that our competitor mostly handles Chinese international students,” the message began. “The remark is being interpreted as a slap in the face of all non-caucasians for some reason, and that it not how it was intended.”
It was not clear which competitor the company was referring to as no specific names were given.
The message continued on, and it got worse….slowly morphing into a critique of the university’s admission policies for international students. The message falsely stated that nearly 20 percent of U. of I. students are from China and that the university was admitting them because they pay higher tuition…yikes.
As of fall 2017, according to university data, about 5,900 U. of I. students are from China as of fall 2017, which compromises 12 percent of the overall student body, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“We agree that having a healthy mixture of different cultures and ethnicities is valuable,” the message states. “But we’re not comfortable with the idea of selling our university to the highest foreign bidder.”
It concludes: “In any event, we did not intend to offend half the planet.”