Uni students are literally having stones thrown at them because of coronavirus
Students have been verbally and physically abused
Coronavirus has now spread to affect people in over 80 countries. There are 80,700 cases inside China, and 18,000 cases outside of China. The disease has claimed over 3,300 lives.
The disease initially emerged in China (in Wuhan, Hubei province) in December, and has spread rapidly. Wuhan has been effectively shut down since 23rd January, when the city’s transport links closed.
However, the disease has also been linked to rising incidents of racism, bullying and discrimination. East Asian students have been physically assaulted and had stones thrown at them. Others have been told to “go back to China”, called “virus”, “killer”, and other racial slurs. More describe people avoiding speaking to them, or refusing to sit near them in lectures and on public transport.
Here are some of their stories:
A student was left with facial fractures after a ‘racially aggravated’ attack
A Singaporean UCL student was attacked by four men, one of whom reportedly said “I don’t want your Coronavirus in my country.”
Jonathan Mok described his face as “exploding with blood”. The attack left him in A&E with facial fractures that may require reconstructive surgery.
He said “racism is once again rearing its ugly head”, and that the coronavirus epidemic is just an excuse for “further hatred for people different from them”.
The Met Police said they are treating the incident as “racially aggravated”.
A student was told to ‘go back to China’ after coughing
A King’s student was told to “go back to China” by a stranger, after she coughed on the tube.
Ming Byrne says the stranger immediately pulled out a handkerchief to cover her face when she saw Ming. When Ming coughed into her jacket, the stranger flinched and deliberately coughed in her direction, accusing her of “spreading your people’s disease”.
Ming, who is Chinese-Polynesian, told The Tab: “Now I feel like I’m almost on edge. I’m apprehensive on public transport when I notice microaggressions or people I think might exhibit racist behaviour.”
In a post on Facebook, Ming said she told the woman: “Not every East-Asian looking person is from Wuhan and that not every Chinese person had coronavirus.”
The woman then “yelled” at Ming to “go back”.
Ming told The Tab: “I have experienced more racism now than before – be it explicit or in the form of microaggressions such as not sitting next to me in public transport, or people looking at me then using hand sanitiser.
“Prior to COVID-19 I really didn’t have any problems. I didn’t really experience racism from strangers. Even when I did it wasn’t really racist, just blatant ignorance that you kind of get used to; people commenting that your accent is really English or that my English was very good. Just little ignorant stuff like that.”
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, Ming says people “don’t respond in the same way”, and “sit further away” from her.
Transport for London called the incident “despicable,” adding: “Racist abuse won’t be tolerated on our network.”
Students feel ‘self-conscious about coughing in public’
At Cardiff, students have spoken out over the racism and xenophobia they have encountered.
Olivia Alldrick told The Tab: “I was walking into the main building the other day, and a group of guys kept laughing and saying ‘Ni Hao’ over and over again, and that was intentional”.
Olivia, from South Korea, says she feels “self-conscious about coughing in public because people assume I just have coronavirus and that I must be a Chinese student”.
Another student said a group of boys shouted “Hey! Coronavirus!” at him, whilst covering their mouths with collars.
He told The Tab: “It is not acceptable for some people to say things like that to others because of their appearance. It is important for everyone who has experienced such things to stand up and speak up.”
A student from Hong Kong was called a ‘killer’
A University of Sheffield student was called a “killer” as she walked into a McDonald’s.
The student, who is from Hong Kong, told The Tab she felt the incident was fuelled by misunderstanding rather than discrimination. She said: “I believe the reason of their behaviour was because they are concerned about their health and are afraid of the virus or the poor management of how the Chinese government deals with the virus.”
The University emailed all students to condemn the “unacceptable” incident, urging students to report racism to security.
Another Sheffield student was attacked for wearing a face mask. A member of staff at The Sheffield Chinese Community Centre felt this attack also shows a lack of cultural understanding.
She said: “They were asking why she was wearing a mask and if she has a problem. She didn’t say anything because it was quite scary for her.
“It was a one-off incident but I’m thinking we need to put out a balanced message of understanding about why Chinese students are wearing masks.
“The student is fine. She didn’t want to press charges. She understands now it was because the public doesn’t understand the situation.”
Angel Moxley, a campaigner and Korean Studies student at Sheffield, fears the city has seen a rise in discrimination in the wake of coronavirus.
She told The Tab: “There’s no excuse for calling one of the nicest people I have ever met a “killer” just for walking in McDonalds, or intimidating Chinese students just for wearing a face mask.
“When I moved to Sheffield I was scared I wouldn’t make any friends. I’m so lucky to have made friends from all over the world.
“But now, I’m not worried for myself, I’m worried for them. The anti Asian sentiment that has been growing due to the coronavirus can’t be covered with excuses of fear or self preservation.”
A student demanded their lecturer stop using ID scanners, due to the course’s ‘large number of Chinese students’
A Liverpool student emailed to demand a lecturer stop using ID scanners in lectures, to stop the spread of coronavirus. He claimed the course has a “large number of Chinese International students”, and the ID scanners are a “health hazard”.
He asked “if it’s possible to suspend the use of the scanner” due to “recent events involving the coronavirus.”
He said the “Chinese International students” “may have been to infected areas in China”, so it’s “important to try and limit [the] potential spread of the virus”.
The president of the University of Liverpool Chinese Society told The Tab Chinese students are “going through a lot of discrimination” following the coronavirus outbreak.
They said: “We surely understand the effects and panic of this disease, and trying to find a way to stop the spread of the virus is worth advocating.
“Most of the Chinese students are wearing face masks to lower the potential problems to others, meanwhile, also to protect ourselves from being affected.
“Thus, we will support any efficient method of impeding the infection. But we also hope we will be treated with equal rights as well.”
A student had a stone thrown at him
In Southampton, police are investigating reports of racist incidents linked to the coronavirus.
One student had a stone thrown at him, being told: “Go back to your fucking country.”
People have been targeted with racial slurs and verbal abuse. Another student, wearing a face mask, was called a “virus”.
The chair of University of Southampton’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association said: “There are racist people who are using the coronavirus as an excuse to racially abuse the Asian community.
“Students at the university are affected – they are afraid of putting on their masks in case they face abuse. There have been no incidents on campus, but there are many which have happened in the city centre.
“There are many incidents which have not been reported to the police.”
Asian students have reported being bullied
Asian students in London have admitted to facing more racism, bullying and discrimination over coronavirus.
One student told The Tab: “People would avoid speaking or sitting next to me because I am Asian, despite having been born in the UK. Some even explicitly comment with their friends about the virus and potential exposure due to Asian students attending at university.”
Another said: “I sneezed once (into my elbow) in the Cruciform and three of the five people at my table got up and went to another table after giving me dirty looks.”
Another London student told The Tab: “One of the consultants at the medical school said ‘these Chinese people eat snakes and bats and end up destroying their whole country.'”
A UCL spokesperson said: “Discrimination or bullying of any kind is wholly unacceptable and will not be tolerated at UCL: We are committed to ensuring a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students and staff.”
A club rep used a joke about coronavirus as a way to sell tickets
A rep for Cardiff SU’s club night posted a meme about coronavirus on Facebook, as a way to try and sell tickets.
The post says: “3rd UK case of Coronavirus got anyone else in stress city? A VK a day keeps the Coronavirus away!”
The image showed a Cardiff student holding VKs and wearing a surgical mask. A fake news headline on the image reads: “Cardiff University finds cure for Coronavirus: Health officials urge students to go to JUICE to ensure immunity”.
People are refusing to sit near Asian students
In Sussex, one student “noticed no one was sitting next to any East Asian students” on a busy bus, calling the incident “blatant racism”.
The released a statement, saying: “The Students’ Union has been made aware of students experiencing racism, hate crime and discrimination both on campus and in town, in light of the recent Coronavirus outbreak in Brighton.University of Sussex
“We find this deeply concerning and want our students to know that this behaviour is inexcusable.
“We want to reiterate that we have a zero tolerance policy on racism. This is not conducive to a diverse and inclusive Sussex and we believe in the strength of being a community. We want our students to feel safe and supported while at university.”
At one Cambridge college, a group of people refused to let some Chinese students sit on the same table as them, despite there being empty seats.
The Master of the college sent an email, saying: “The behaviour is unacceptable.
“I take seriously any case of discrimination that happens on our premises, and wanted to make you all aware of this unhappy event.”
The University’s Vice Chancellor said: “We urge everyone to remain respectful and supportive of those members of our community who, at what is already a time of heightened anxiety, may feel subjected to unfounded scrutiny.”
Universities are warning students against racism
The University of Bristol has urged students to report incidents of racism related to the coronavirus.
The University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience said: “Our university has a strong and proud history of welcoming Chinese students and staff to the UK, and indeed students from across South East Asia. They are very much part of our international community.
“As a University and a community, we do not tolerate racism in any form, and we encourage students and staff to report any incident of racial harassment and seek support from us.
“If any student or member of staff experiences an incident of prejudice or harassment connected with Coronavirus, or with anything else, we ask them to use our Report and Support service to report incidents anonymously or contact the police”.
In an email, Warwick University told students allegedly exerting pressure on flatmates returning from Wuhan that doing so is “unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
The University said: “Students cannot be prohibited from returning to their residence once they have passed checks at UK airports.”
A Warwick student who’s flatmate had recently travelled from Wuhan told The Tab: “We want her to promise us she’ll quarantine herself for 14 days after coming back from China. Many of us are worried and want to raise awareness, but the University is being ignorant to us.”