Letter to the Editor: I am a Chinese international student at UWL, why are students being racist toward me?
April 6, 2020
I am a Chinese international student from Guangxi providence and an English major at UWL. Coronavirus has been blowing up in the United States for last month and I am so sorry to see American people are suffering in this terrible disease, and I hope God blesses the United States during this tough period.
On the other hand, as we know, China was the first country that announced this virus, called COVID-19, to the world, and it also was the first country that suffered from this disease. As an international student in the U.S., I felt very sad to see my people suffering from this disease, meanwhile, I also received some strange looks in this foreign country.
On March 13th, UWL made the decision for spring break and online class. I was studying in the Student Union, and I saw how shocked people around me were. I know most college students never met such a serious disease issue, so I understood why people feel shocked about this.
However, I have felt like something is wrong whenever I walk around campus. When I passed the REC, a man gave me strange eyes which made me feel maybe I did something wrong to him. That was the first person to do that, but I know it will not be the last.
There were at least five people who glared at me when I walked from the REC to Whitney Center on March 13th. These stares made me feel like I was a monster on the street and a walking virus. All I could do was put my hat on over my eyes and walk quickly home. My other friends who are international students told me that they have received the same stares.
On March 15th, I went hiking on the Bluffs with some of my Chinese friends and American friends. On the top, a young father who held his kid walked by us, he coughed loudly and aggressively said, “I have coronavirus, ha-ha…. ” All my friends and I were shocked, but we didn’t say anything to him.
On March 18th, the “Chinese virus” was talked about by people in several social media, even in the White House speech. This was another shock for me when I got the U.S. I don’t think it’s responsible to say “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” without proof.
There is no international health agency that declared that this virus is originally from China. It might be found in other countries but the government didn’t notice that the disease was COVID-19. However, this virus has a name: COVID-19. DO NOT USE COVID-19 TO SPRED RACIST IDEAS.
There have not been many students who have spoken about their racist experiences at UWL during COVID-19. Unfortunately, UWL has not talked about the impact this might have on Chinese international students.
As the president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, I know that there are not any Chinese international students infected with COVID-19 and I reported this to IEE earlier in the semester. Because UWL didn’t have any test or health report requirements for those who just back from China after the winter break, I did a collection of Chinese student’s health reports at the end of the 14-day incubation period (which was the beginning of the third week).
I believe that most UWL students don’t know this information. However, I hope UWL can speak for us Chinese students to erase misunderstandings from other UWL students. I hope we can get through this tough period together and help one another because when we are not home in China, UWL is another home for us. Feeling uncomfortable in a place you call your second home after two and a half years can be isolating and difficult.
I expect better from UWL students to think about their actions and words before harassing their fellow students.
Letters to the Editor do not reflect the beliefs or values of The Racquet Press