A shuttle company is roundly being blasted for an offensive promotional email stating “You won’t feel like you’re in China when you’re on our buses.”
Suburban Express sent the email to advertise its shuttle service between the University of Illinois and various Chicago suburbs offered during the campus’ Christmas break, reported the Chicago Tribune
The ad proclaimed one of the benefits of riding its buses is “passengers like you.”
A second email meant as an apology appeared to only dig the company into a deeper hole.
“A little while ago, we sent out an email that has received some negative feedback. The remark is being interpreted as a slap in the face of all non-caucasians for some reason, and that was not how it was intended.” “U of I mismanagement over the past few decades has put them in a financial bind. To solve the problem, it admit large numbers of international students who pay higher tuition. Nearly 20% 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.”
The actual percentage of international Chinese students is actually 12 percent.
According to the Daily Illini, this is the second incident involving the Suburban Express that has offended Asian students.
In 2013, an employee made some comments that caused a drop of ridership among Asian students, according to the owner of Suburban Express, Dennis Toeppen.
“We were very hurt by the loss of those riders. We meant them no harm, and we felt we were being unjustly punished,” he said.
The University released a statement condemning the Suburban Express ad and emails.
“These types of racist and bigoted statements attacking any members of our community deserve nothing but condemnation from all of us. We cannot prevent a private company from operating in our community. But we can, loudly and unambiguously, say that the opinions expressed by Suburban Express are offensive, bigoted, insulting and in direct opposition to the values of this university. And we would encourage any potential future customers of this transport company to carefully investigate its record and customer concerns before using its services.”
The Asian Pacific American Association also joined in the condemnation.
“Equating the benefits of ‘allowing fuzzy slippers’ and ‘refundable tickets’ with the ability to board a bus with ‘passengers that look like you’ (which apparently just means ‘not-Asian’) is frankly dehumanizing and disgusting to our Asian classmates and friends,” the group said.
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