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Bus company faced investigation after sending out discriminatory ad in midwest US

Bus company faced investigation after sending out discriminatory ad in midwest US

Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a subpoena yesterday to Champaign, Ill. based Suburban Express, Inc. over potential civil rights violations based on a recent advertisement directed at college students traveling during the holiday season. One alderman even bluntly responding, "This is not an apology". But by then, the company was already under fire.

"When I first read it, I was just dumbfounded", Joey Domanski, University of Illinois Student Government Vice President, says.

The initial comment made, "Passengers like you.you won't feel like you're in China when you're on our buses." was grotesquely xenophobic in nature.

The ad and subsequent apology email drew a withering blast of scorn from the school.

In a follow-up email entitled, "Apology", the second message referencing the University of Illinois' worldwide student population was ridiculed as potentially more offensive than the initial ad itself. Although we have never prevented any student of any demographic from boarding our bus simply because of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender orientation or nationality, the comments made have created the image that Chinese exchange students are not welcome, and we are striving to change this. "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", the email read. The university has no business relationship with this company. U of I is a state school that is funded by taxpayers and is built on land granted by the people of the State of IL.

"My whole concern is that the university does everything possible to make sure that there's no connection between Surburban Express and the University of Illinois", LeRoy said.

Suburban Express added that worldwide Chinese students are a burden on domestic students.

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In a follow-up email, the company doubled down on their complaint that the Unviersity of IL admits too many students from China.

'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 IL and our local cities, ' read a statement from the school's Office of Student Affairs. Your responses as a community have inspired us as a company to not only expeditiously make amends, and appropriately apologize without excuse, but to relaunch our company's conduct completely.

Currently, about 11,000 of the school's approximately 45,000 graduates and undergraduates are global students, according to Kaler, with about 6,000 coming from China. It is the gateway to Chicago.

"These types of racist and bigoted statements attacking any members of our community deserve nothing but condemnation from all of us", the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs said.

The owners of the bus company apologized, but not really. The statement additionally blamed the company's bad publicity within the university network on a "student agitator" looking to drive worldwide students' business away.

Pawar said he wanted the company to "come talk to the City Council about their stance on diversity, how they could have allowed a statement like this to go out knowing that they serve large number of travelers of various backgrounds, and why they think that we, as city government, should allow them to continue operating out of the airport given their ugly stances". Suburban Express must reply to the subpoena within 30 days.


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