UI blasts bus service for 'bigoted' email

UI blasts bus service for 'bigoted' email

CHAMPAIGN — Three University of Illinois campus leaders on Sunday condemned a private bus service for making what they called "offensive, bigoted and insulting" statements in trying to drum up business over Christmas break.

Sparking the outcry: an email from the company to its customers, including University of Illinois students, that read in part: "You won't feel like you're in China when you're on our buses."

Some 6,000 Chinese students are enrolled at the UI. Its 12,454 international students in 2016-17 were the sixth-most of any U.S. college, according to the Institute of International Education's annual Open Doors study, released last month.A statement co-signed by three UI officials blasted Champaign-based Suburban Express on Sunday, saying its messages are "in direct opposition to the values of this university."

"The message specifically insulted members of our Chinese, Asian and Asian American communities who are a vital and valued part of every aspect of both the University of Illinois and our local cities. These types of racist and bigoted statements attacking any members of our community deserve nothing but condemnation from all of us," read the statement, signed by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Danita Brown Young, Director of International Student and Scholar Services Martin McFarlane and Vice Provost for International Affairs and Global Strategies Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela.

The three emphasized that the UI has no business relationship with Suburban Express, adding that the company's buses are prohibited from picking up or dropping off passengers on university property.

On Sunday night, Anusha Thotakura, president of the Illini Democrats, told The News-Gazette her organization is also organizing a boycott of the company.

"It is really appalling to see that kind of advertising in this day and age," Thotakura said. "This is racist in any definition of the word. We call upon the people to exercise their right to refrain from patronizing this company."

Suburban Express owner Dennis Toeppen did not respond to requests for comment and did not answer the door Sunday afternoon and evening at the address listed on his most recent traffic tickets.

However, his company released what it called an apology over the weekend.

"This remark is being interpreted as a slap in the face of all non-Caucasians for some reason, and that is not how it was intended," the statement read.

It went on to accuse the UI of mismanagement, saying: "They admit large numbers of international students who pay higher tuition. Nearly 20 percent of U of I students are natives of China, and this high percentage of nonnative English speakers places a variety of burdens on domestic students. We agree that having a healthy mixture of different cultures and ethnicities is valuable. But we're not comfortable with the idea of selling our university to the highest foreign bidder."

Said Thotakura: "I think the so-called apology is worthless."

Chinese natives expressed their own concerns about Suburban Express on the UI Quad on Sunday evening.

"I rode a Suburban Express bus one time and felt quite uncomfortable with the experience," said Tan Huan of Shanghai. "Now, I hear these comments from Suburban Express."

"I came to America out of affection for the United States," said Da Chen, of rural Beijing. "Apparently, some American citizens don't think the same about us."

Wei Wang of Hangzhou, China, said she was willing to forgive Toeppen for his comments.

"But I don't think I will ever ride one of his buses," she added.

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j-e-i wrote on December 04, 2017 at 7:12 am

That was not an apology. That was a very poor attempt at justification of a racist advertising campaign.

Bystander wrote on December 04, 2017 at 8:12 am
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Dennis Toeppen is right. The U of I has sold out to the Chinese. Of course the social justice warrior wannabes are going to jump all over it to make themselves feel good when Toeppen is just telling the truth. 

CallSaul wrote on December 04, 2017 at 9:12 am

And of course you, probably soon with many of the other extremist rightwing Republican trolls on here, jump in on the side of the guy with the horrible bus service who released a bigoted ad and then followed up with even more bigotry in his defensive and deliberate non apology.

Y'know, in yet another desperate, pathetic and sure to fail attempt to feel better about your hateful existence, so completely consumed as you are by jealousy and resentment...

Would you care to elabotate on just what burden all those 'non native speakers' place on 'domestic' students...?

Be specific...if you can...(we already know of course that you won't be able to...)

Also, how exactly has the 'U of I has sold out to the Chinese'?

Be specific...if you can...(we already know of course that you won't be able to...)

It really is unfortunate that all these reactionary extremist rightwing bigots and racists will sadly be living out the remainder of their lives so utterly consumed with jealousy and resentment of others...

...talk about placing a burden on others...

Bystander wrote on December 04, 2017 at 10:12 am
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The burden the Chinese place on Illinois residents is they take the place of qualified Illinois students who could have a shot at a higher education, but since they don't pay top dollar they lose to the Chinese. 

But of course you'll continue with your school boy rants and personal attacks. It's surprising The News-Gazette doesn't enforce their own policy of no personal attacks and ban CallSaul. 

CallSaul wrote on December 04, 2017 at 10:12 am

You're clearly unaware of the application and acceptance process --- no otherwise qualified student from Illinois or anywhere else has had their application rejected because an international student took 'their place' at the university.

Your reactionary resentment of international students is, unsurprisingly, rooted in ignorance of how things actually work...

I also note you're unable, again unsurprisingly, to back up your ludicrous theory that the 'U of I has sold out to the Chinese.'

We all knew you'd be unable to do so.

And what, exactly, personal attacks are you accusing me of making...?

...be specific...

Bystander wrote on December 04, 2017 at 1:12 pm
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As numerous commenters have repeatedly advised: take your meds. 

CallSaul wrote on December 04, 2017 at 1:12 pm

So, unsurprisingly, you're unable to back up your accusation by pointing specifically to something I actually wrote, huh...?

...as expected --- yawn...

Could you be afraid to point to something specific I wrote because you --- just in this thread --- wrote:

'Of course the social justice warrior wannabes are going to jump all over it to make themselves feel good when Toeppen is just telling the truth.'

..and also this:

'...your school boy rants...'

...and also, with typical deep hypocrisy and total lack of self awareness, this:

'As numerous commenters have repeatedly advised: take your meds.'

Tell us, how do you justify calling anything I wrote a 'personal attack' while somehow exusing these statement you yourself wrote in this very thread, not to mention the myriad other personal attacks you've engaged in elsewhere? 

And why do you ignore and excuse the many nasty and hateful personal attacks made by your fellow reactionary righwing extremists? 

By your own logic, you and they should be banned...

...right?

Illiniwek222 wrote on December 05, 2017 at 11:12 am

Palilalia, non verbal. You were previously diagnosed...please seek treatment.

rsp wrote on December 04, 2017 at 9:12 pm

Any chance Dennis Toeppen can sell out to the Chinese???

happyhero wrote on December 04, 2017 at 10:12 am

I am offended by the ongoing antics of Suburban Express. The attempted apology is even more insulting than the original advertisement. This bus company is not representative of people that I know in Champaign-Urbana.

rsp wrote on December 04, 2017 at 10:12 am

Why do I have the feeling he doesn't want minorities on the bus who might speak in a different language? Afraid they might say something bad about his company and he could miss the chance to fine them? I'd like to see him try to fine me but then I'd have to ride his bus.

I wouldn't ride Suburban Express if it was free!

 

 

whatithink wrote on December 04, 2017 at 11:12 am

I originally saw the advertisement as being the busses aren't packed full and overcrowded, like they are in china?   Some people seem to try really hard to see everything a racist comment?  However, the response letter certainly turned it into a racist statement. 

But, giving this company, it should be of no surprise.  I doubt changing the business name made thier busses any safer, either.  Someone should shut them down permanently and quit lettine them open under a new name.

seleenermparis wrote on December 04, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Perhaps it is time for the University to not allow this specific bus service on campus. They have made it perfectly clear they do not respect anyone (this is not the first time this company has disrespected their riders) and I am sure U of I would not want to associate with a company which has repeatibly disrespected the people who make their school a better place to be. I do not feel the half-hearted, tongue-in-cheek, so-called apology is enough to continue their support. They need to be repremended and the best way to do this is to hinder their ability to make money off of the people which they offended and those who are possible future victims. There are plenty of other bus services which have a better rapport with the students and those should be encouraged.  

 

BruckJr wrote on December 04, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Uh, this particular bus service is not allowed on campus.

Concerned @ UI wrote on December 04, 2017 at 2:12 pm

If I am not mistaken, I see these buses on campus quite regularly.

Their website list for pickup locations on the U-I campus, right?

http://www.suburbanexpress.com/stoplocsuiuc.html

 

BruckJr wrote on December 04, 2017 at 5:12 pm

hm, good point.  From the article:  The three emphasized that the UI has no business relationship with Suburban Express, adding that the company's buses are prohibited from picking up or dropping off passengers on university property.  Are the city streets considered to be university property?

CallSaul wrote on December 04, 2017 at 6:12 pm

The city streets are not university property so the busses can drive on them but they cannot go on university property...

townie1 wrote on December 04, 2017 at 12:12 pm

The original advertisement said you would be sitting next to "people like you". You won't feel like you are in China. For the person who thinks everyone is trying to see something racist in everything, this is obviously racist and nothing to do with "crowded busses in China."

whatithink wrote on December 04, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Guess my reading comprehension skills are off, or I didn't care enough about the situation to read it closely?  You are correct, definetly anti-chinese.  Didn't this idiot get sued by a bunch of students with the other "company" name?  But still?  How many times can a guy get shut down, just to reopen under a different name? 

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on December 04, 2017 at 12:12 pm

SJW Jimmy

 

Here is a story you might have missed due to you attending your SJW meetings.

 

http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/education/isu-considers-adding-engi...

 

But questions I have for you.. what is in state tuition at the U of I?

 

What is the tuition for a student from China

 

The state is in a budget crunch.. where best to get the money?

 

What is the rate of acceptance for  a student from China vs a student with the same grades etc from Illinois.?

 

You see Jimmy........... lots of students who want to attend the U of I cannot due to the fact that they do not bring in the revenue that the Chinese students bring in.   They lose 10 Illinois students and thats 200k gone.  Lose 10 Chinese?  thats 400k............ big money.

 

 

Alexander wrote on December 04, 2017 at 3:12 pm

The free market/GOP stance wants low taxes. Well guess what, state colleges are tax funded. So if you take away funding (as your libertarian dream would have it), the university has to recover the difference some how. You can't have it both ways.

Jsmith68 wrote on December 04, 2017 at 12:12 pm

The University has zero say in what bus service anyone uses, nonetheless where they can operate.

rsp wrote on December 04, 2017 at 12:12 pm

They keep them off UI property so they have that say.

Concerned @ UI wrote on December 04, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Not according to their website and given the fact that these buses are regularly on the UI campus.

http://www.suburbanexpress.com/stoplocsuiuc.html

 

rsp wrote on December 04, 2017 at 9:12 pm

You are confusing the campus area and city streets. City streets run through the campus area but the UI doesn't own them. But there are other places in the campus area that are owned by the UI where they are unwelcome. As in no trespassing.

It sounds like the UI would like the cities take action.

billbtri5 wrote on December 04, 2017 at 1:12 pm

...is there anything this paper won't cover ?....   get a life....   

CU_townie_2_time_UI_grad wrote on December 04, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Are you serious?  I would say this is a pretty newsworthy story.  CNN agrees, which is why this story is on their front page:

 

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/04/health/bus-company-ad-email-trnd/index.html

CharacterCounts wrote on December 04, 2017 at 2:12 pm

There should be no discrimination.  Anyone should be able to purchase a ticket and everyone should be treated fairly and equally. The international students on campus are known to work extremely hard on their studies and live within their economic means (most have very little money but there are exceptions.)

Could someone explain the entrance process and acceptance of Illinois students versus international students?  

There are many American born international students on campus, many people are of the belief these are international students.  

Illinois students should be admitted if they meet the qualifications not be required to qualify above international students regardless of how much tuition international students pay.  It is recognized international students do bring in a lot of tuition money to the university, but they should not be able to buy their way in.  There should be one standard with Illinois students admitted first.

CallSaul wrote on December 04, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Lesser qualified international students are not given preference over more qualified US citizens.

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on December 04, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Prove it

townie1 wrote on December 04, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Why don't you prove that they are.

 

ClearVision wrote on December 06, 2017 at 10:12 am

I don't disagree.

However, a valid question is whether there should be a lower entrance standard for in-state students of a (partially) tax-supported state-run university. What would be more beneficial to the State of Illinois, investing in raising the educational standards of the citizens of the state, or catering to the wealthiest and most privileged members of foreign countries (who will most likely take their skils and education elsewhere when they leave)? Something to ponder.

Kirsten wrote on December 05, 2017 at 8:12 am

"American born international students" is an oxymoron. Perhaps you mean "nonwhite American students"?

KlaatuSansGort wrote on December 04, 2017 at 4:12 pm

"WHAT A SAD MESS!"

ERE wrote on December 04, 2017 at 10:12 pm
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I am personally thankful for all the Mainland Chinese students at the U of I-they provide great energy, diversity, and culture to CU. Don't let this bus company tu baozi bother you much, he does not represent America well. I studied in Shanghai in the 1980s, as a student then had a lot of money in China, so now many PRC students have a lot of money and the situation is much more equal-it's fine! 

Many people there were very nice to me, some were not-don't let this bus guy affect your many positive interactions with other Americans. This is not the first time there has been a newspaper article about him being unpleasant. Take your business elsewhere and thanks for coming to the U of I! 

CallSaul wrote on December 06, 2017 at 10:12 am

Here's another taste of local racism, this time for the commenter who calls himself 'thegipper.'

Here it is: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2017-12-05/urbana-council-discusses-causes-racial-disparity-traffic-stops.html#comment-684194

'Actually, the worst drivers by far in the area are the Chinese. We all know it, and have experienced it. Not racism, just fact. An officer himself told me the same thing.'

This is the kind of ignorant and stupid racism so many rightwing extremists cling to because of their own sad and empty existence, consumed by jealousy, hatred and resentment of others...

These pathetic and ignorant racists and bigots are what's wrong with this country...