A university condemned Sunday a “racist” bus ad telling students they “won’t feel like [they’re] in China” when riding buses.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign condemned an ad issued by Suburban Express, a private company providing shuttle service in the Chicago area, reported the Chicago Tribune.
Suburban Express “distributed an advertising message that once again demonstrated the company’s disregard and disdain towards the values of inclusivity that define our university,” said a joint statement from three university officers.
“Passengers like you,” the company said in an ad emailed Saturday to students. “You won’t feel like you’re in China when you’re on our buses.”
The company alleged the university’s recruiting of Chinese students resembled selling the institution to the “highest foreign bidder.”
“We cannot prevent a private company from operating in our community,” said the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noting that it had no business relationship with Suburban Express. “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.”
Suburban Express apologized for the statement, explaining that it was intended to target a competitor.
“We made a remark based on the fact that our competitor mostly handles Chinese international students,” said a second email sent by the company. “The remark is being interpreted as a slap in the face of all non-caucasians for some reason, and that it not how it was intended.”
Suburban Express has received criticism for listing the address, phone number, and email address of customers with “dishonored payments.” The company also dropped lawsuits against at least 124 students after suing them for boarding the incorrect bus, attempting to obtain refunds for tickets they did not use, and using tickets on the incorrect date.
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