VT stays disrespecting minorities when literally NONE of these students are international… when is this gonna end ? pic.twitter.com/owqM8SELV8
— rajni (@ratchnikapania) November 6, 2018
A recent promotional flyer intended to portray international Virginia Tech students instead featured a photo of members of the Filipino American Student Association. All the students pictured are American, most of them from Virginia, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Virginia Tech junior Rajni Kapania, who posted the Twitter photo of the flyer, said she wanted to raise awareness of the issue, finding it offensive that her American friends would be touted as international for promotional materials.
“These are just my friends,” said Kapania. “I’m standing up for them.”
Backlash to the flyer followed quickly. The Asian American Student Union, which umbrellas 13 other Virginia Tech student organizations, called the flyer a microaggression that reinforces the “perpetual foreigner” stereotype in a letter, shown in the Tweet below.
AASU Statement: A Community Response pic.twitter.com/1ZpjnQJzdZ
— VT AASU (@vtaasu) November 8, 2018
The umbrella organization is calling for “solutions as we move forward,” which include “public acknowledgement from senior administration to the Virginia Tech community,” “convening a task force to look at how to prevent marginalized student photos from being used,” and “a review of current practices of how photographs are used within the university for promotion of diversity.”
The image was also used on the Cranwell International Center’s website. School officials have since apologized and removed the image from promotional materials online and tried to make sure any flyers that went up were taken down.
Executive Director of Communications and Information Technology for Student Affairs Hunter Gresham issued an apology statement to the Asian Pacific Islander community, reports Collegiate Times.
“I am now aware of the impact, hurt and discomfort that I’ve caused to members of the [Asian/Pacific Islander] community,” Gresham wrote in an email. “As such, it is with heartfelt sincerity that I say I am truly sorry. I clearly operated from a place of insensitivity, privilege, and haste … despite training, awareness and a personal commitment to be different and do better.”
University spokeswoman Tracy Vosburgh said that school officials have reached out to the Asian American student group in hopes of having a conversation on the matter.
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RE: Perpetual foreigners-Filipino Americans Depicted as International Students: First thing VTech can do is contact the international student association for a photo. If you don’t have one maybe that says something.