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Chinese Students hit by racism and abuse over outbreak of Coronavirus

Some international students have been left feeling “unwelcome” at Brunel as reports of discrimination heighten due to the coronavirus spreading to the UK.

In a statement released by Brunel updating students on the coronavirus, reports from Chinese students highlight discrimination against them since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Lesley O'Keeffe, Deputy Director of Academic and Student Services, said: "Sadly, some of our Chinese students have reported that they feel discriminated against on campus since the outbreak was announced. This is unacceptable and won't be tolerated. Anyone who is aware of a student who has experienced this, be it in halls, a social space or even off-campus, should report it to the Student Centre or anonymously through our Report and Support service."

Hanna Abu Bakar, 22, journalism student was the victim to online abuse after people messaged her anonymously on Instagram:

“I’ve been getting messages from students from campus asking if I have coronavirus acting like I’m a big threat.

“I felt so attacked as people were looking at me differently and making fun of me because I’m Asian. The messages were not funny and made me feel low about myself like I was unwanted at Brunel.”

Melina Rauter, 19 says: her experience on campus hasn’t changed dramatically but she has noticed a change in attitudes to Chinese students.

“I have noticed a slight difference in the way the students are acting and behaving. I’ve been called Coronavirus twice by strangers on campus since the virus broke out.

“Honestly, I’m shocked, people in China are dying and clinging onto their lives whilst others just recklessly mock and make fun of the Chinese population. I am glad and relieved that students are reporting to the university for being discriminated instead of staying silent. They have every right to stand up for themselves.”

Evelyn Harris, 21, Design student says: “I think people discriminating against students in relation to the coronavirus is just ridiculous. It's heart-breaking to see how quickly people will judge someone on how they look and then treat them awfully.

“When people are assuming that anyone, they think looks Chinese is contagious and carrying the virus, it’s just plain racism. First off assuming any Asian person is Chinese and secondly assuming that because the virus originated in China that instantly means they're infected.

“It just shows that they're not educating themselves properly on what the virus is. Viruses don’t pick and choose particular races they want to infect. If you're a healthy person you then have nothing to worry about, so people should treat everyone with respect.”

The university has urged students who have experienced or have seen discrimination against students on campus to report it to the Student Centre or anonymously through the Report and Support service.

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