Prejudice against International Students
Racism is discrimination or unfair treatment of individuals based on their racial affiliations. Discrimination can be based on names, physique, or skin color that aids in identification of an individual as belonging to a certain race. The mode of dressing by different races has also been a reason to racially abuse people pretending that white students are making fun of their counterparts. Racism has been common in many regions of the world, including America and Europe. However, reported cases of racism have gone up in the last few years in the United States. This trend has been attributed to the increase in number of international students who have been moving into the United States in the last few years. Though this is the case, racism has been common in the United States given diversity of races, which include African Americans, whites, Hispanics, and Asians.
Influx of the number of international students has been attributed to reduction in federal financial support to colleges and universities. This has forced institutions to increase their intake of international students since they provide much needed finances. It is notable that most funding for international students comes from outside the United States. International students have also been actively recruited into American institutions because they provide a cultural diversity for local students, which helps them in developing different skills that are important for coexisting with others. This increase in the number of international students in the United States has sparked criticism from local American students who argue that tax payers’ money is being used to fund education for non-American students while leaving local students out. This criticism has taken a new turn with some students and even administrators aiming racist abuses at international students. Since this prejudice affects service delivery to international students at all levels in America, it is argued that many of the problems that face international students have their roots in racial abuses one way or another. Indeed, the greatest concern for international students aiming to pursue their studies in the United States is whether they will be in states that have a low rate of racial prejudice or in those states with a high rate of racial abuse.
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Racial prejudice has been directed against blacks in most cases in the past. In case of international students studying in the United States, victims of racism include more races. They include Asians, Indians, Chinese, Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians, and even Turkish. It is clear that these students are mainly from the Middle East. The fact that Turkish students are also subject to racial abuse means that even Europeans are not spared. Color is not a major factor since some of the victims are white. It is thus safer to say that the basis for racism is that these people are not native Americans and have come to utilize the US government’s resources. However, despite the claim that they are utilizing tax payers’ money, international students contribute a large sum to the American economy. In 2011, they contributed $21.8 billion as fees and other expenditures.
Perpetrators of racial prejudice are at every level in American institutions and public in general. For example, students of the Ohio University have been noted to post racist comments in Tweeter against Indians and Asians. Sentiments like ‘the Asian passing us in the park wants to eat our dog’ are common. On the same social platform, others have referred to international Indian international students as ‘smelling like curry covered butt holes’ during their encounters in the gym. To take the prejudice to a new level, a column in the Kansas State University students’ newspaper argues that Afghan, Iranian, Chinese, and Turkish students should not benefit from tax payers’ money since they are likely to turn into terrorists who will harm the US citizens. Professors are not exempt to this discrimination. A study done among international students has revealed that some actions of white professors amounted to racial abuse. These actions include laughing at an international student’s name and ignoring students because their English is not good when compared to a native English speaker. Other comments, which negate possible academic achievements for some races, have also been noted. This includes sentiments that Latinos cannot be scientific. Because of such treatments from both lecturers and classmates, life for international students has never been easy. Indeed, it is hard to make friends with native American students, which further affects how they adapt to life in the United States.
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Lecturers and other educationists have also come to the limelight for having no regard or even negating students’ varied cultures and trainings. This makes affected students feel out of place, unvalued, and like intruders in the university where they have hoped to have a great social, academic, and cultural experience during their time of study. Some international students have also been accused of being racially abusive to others. This is the case for Asian students who look down upon African students despite them being looked down upon by native American students. These students walk in groups that are comprised of people of the same race and use negative terms when describing students not belonging to their race. This further poses a problem for some international students who have to deal with racism both from native American students and from other international students. Potential employers and the general public have been noted to be prejudiced towards international students for reasons not yet explainable. The number of international students who get internships in the United States is low and it gets lower when the number of international students who secure employments in the United States is surveyed. This means that although there is a lot of potential genius that comes to the United States in the form of international students, there is little utilization. This is because of the racial prejudice in the hiring process. It is even harder for international students who hope to continue their studies and get working experience in the United States to achieve their goals.
Main places where students are subjected to racial prejudice include university lecture halls (where native American students and lecturers are the culprits), social media platforms, and even residential areas. Of these, social media have been most rampant with many accounts in Tweeter with fake names posting photos and even videos that portray other races as inferior. Of the social media platforms, Tweeter is the most commonly used. Facebook is also used in perpetration of racial abuses to international students that they come across during the day or shortly before posting an article. In residential areas, it has been argued that international students are not given housing of the same quality as their white counterparts. This begs the question as to whether the authorities are investing enough effort into ensuring that international students have a comfortable life given that they make a big contribution to the US economy.
A new twist has been added to the issue of racial prejudice against international students as they may have some characteristics that make them more susceptible to racial abuse. These include specific stereotypes that make it hard to interact with certain student groups in the university. When a Korean student was asked if she were comfortable to date an African student, she replied that it would be impossible since he was likely to hurt her because he was big. She also added that his big lips and curly hair were not attractive based on her preferences . This means that such a student becomes tribal herself and helps in the spread of the vice. Indeed, some cultures from which international students come from have negative perceptions of dark-skinned people, which affects how they associate with them. For instance, in Japan blacks are considered as backward. In China, dark-skinned people like Latinos, blacks, and Filipinos are considered to be inferior, which further makes it hard for them to associate with these races in a productive manner. Some international students view the white culture as superior. This makes them uncomfortable relating with other white students. This increases the interracial gap. In such instance, white students are not to blame as international students have brought the problem upon themselves.
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The curriculum has contributed to the presence of racial prejudice in American universities. For instance, some campuses exempt international students from taking learning units on American history and do not have a requirement for international students to diversify their courses. Thus, international students preserve their understanding of races. This greatly influences who they choose to relate with and the quality of the experience they have in college. This has a great effect on campus climate in terms of how the student body interacts and its relation with the teaching and administrative staff. One of the ways to combat this kind of stereotype is to alter the way students understand other cultures. International students should be educated about other races. Campuses that allow students to study only courses they intend to study allow this vice to continue if there is no intervention in the form of modification of the curriculum.
The outcry on the ever increasing number of reported cases of racism has forced the authorities to act. This is because if incidences keep increasing, there is a high probability of the number of international students coming to America reducing. This is not good news for the American economy and individual colleges and universities, which depend on international students to bridge the financial gap left by reduced funding by the federal government. The large amount of money brought to the United States is likely to be lost. For these reasons, individual institutions and the federal government have tried to look for ways of improving the situation and attracting more international students. Some universities have put efforts in promoting interracial education so as to make it easier for students from different races to live together. Thus, studying American history as well as other racial histories has become necessary in most universities. Other programs have been formed aimed at improving student cohesion. These include ‘Campus Cousin’, ‘Global Greek’, and ‘Friendship Families’. They are aimed at pairing local students and international students or people who have recently returned from abroad in order to improve interaction and interracial understanding. Indeed, some campuses have resorted to giving students credited courses, which act as orientations throughout the semester. These courses target varied issues like transportation, housing, and educational issues such as plagiarism. Other targets for these courses include educating students about available resources in the university. Some of the international courses allow formation of friendships between students from different nationalities and races. Indeed, it has been shown that relationships formed with other international students help a lot in management of depression, improvement of academic performance, and increase in reported satisfaction of international students with experiences in college. Moreover, there has been an increase in the advocacy for international student offices to form partnerships with multicultural affairs offices in order to create opportunities for students to be educated about relationships among races in the United States. Some universities use short essays and movies to educate, facilitate, and illustrate discussions about race.
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Students are encouraged to be united by having dialogues in classes on issues that concern race . It is also necessary to encourage international and domestic students to enroll in diverse courses like ethnic studies where they can learn about gender, race, class, and sexuality issues. It is necessary that students learn about cultural differences and systems of inequality that are present in the United States and in their native countries. Such courses should be able to teach how students can perform a critical analysis of ways in which race and privilege get communicated to people globally and how people internalize ideologies. It is even more important that students are taught on how to critically analyze themselves before judging other students based on what they think is right. Given that universities are benefitting economically and culturally from international students, it is necessary that they take more steps to combat the vice.
There are many setbacks facing efforts aimed at dealing with racism. For instance, there are no legal provisions for dealing with reported cases of racism. It has never been reported that some perpetrators of racism against international students have been apprehended and prosecuted. The rate at which social media-based racial abuses against non-American are increasing is alarming. Unfortunately, no legislation has been passed to give proper guidelines on how cases are to be investigated and culprits to be prosecuted. Even within separate universities, there has been no prosecution of those lecturers who have been reported as being racially abusive. This means that commitment of some universities is incomplete. Presence of proper legal provisions may not solve the problem if there is no proper system for investigation of claims of racial abuse. Some of the colleges lack proper offices for advising international students who are racially abused.
The current situation of racism against international students can be said to be improving. There are more avenues of help being offered to afflicted students, which include international student offices. There is a drive by individual universities to have courses that teach on cultural interactions that are made compulsory in the university curricular. When the current situation is compared to the past, it can be safely said that it is much better now. This is based on a reduction of the number of racial abuse complains that are reported annually. However, there is concern that at present there are more complicated ways of abusing people racially without being caught. For instance, the use of fake accounts in social media makes it hard to find out the person who has posted a racial message although the message has already reached the target audience. Thus, the current reduction in the number of reported cases can be due to a reduced rate of reporting given that nobody can be directly identified as the perpetrator. In contrast, in the past most of the abuses were made face-to-face, which made it easier when reporting. However, just like in the past, there has been little progress in the legal system as far as dealing with racial abuse is concerned. The major effort in dealing with the problem has been made by individual universities because they fear revenue losses. The government is less interested despite the fact that international students contribute a lot to the economy of the United States.
The future of racism and its effect on international students is hard to predict. This is because as technology advances, more avenues of propagating the vice are opened to those inclined to discrimination. This means that it will be easier to reach more people in a short time while leaving little trail that can be used to get the perpetrator. It is thus necessary that internet security is efficient if dealing with abuses online is to be implemented effectively. Besides, the fact that the legal system of the United States is slow in formulating laws of dealing with racism means that justice to victims will be delayed even in the future. In fact, this means that justice is denied to victims. It is thus necessary that steps are taken by the federal government in dealing with the problem since it stands a good chance to gain more financially and intellectually from international students. However, the future is also promising given steps taken by individual colleges to deal with racism. Introduction of ethnic education courses will help in changing mindsets of both native American students and international students so that they stop seeing each other as inferior or superior. Such a change of perception will improve how students relate to each other and will have long-term implications for the nation because as students grow, they will be more tolerant to other cultures, which can result in better international cohesion and peace for the whole world .
Dedication of each student, both international and native American, is necessary if the problem of racism against international students is to be fully dealt with. Ethnic education can be extended to the university staff since they have also been accused of taking part in racial abuse. Perhaps, the most important part is for the US entrepreneurs and employers to recognize potential of college students and hire them based on their academic ability rather than being selective based on races of individual students. Such a gesture will make white students regard the other not as inferior, but as academic competitors rivaling with them on equal grounds.
Based on the facts, it is clear that international students of all races face racial discrimination and abuse in the United States. Perpetrators are fellow students, staff, employers, and even the general public. Because of the economic and cultural contribution of these students to the United States, many institutions have taken it upon themselves to improve the situation of international students by fighting racism. Understanding and appreciating other people’s cultures will be a key to rooting out the problem. With the current efforts being put in place, the future of international students in the United States looks brighter. Most importantly, it is the responsibility of everybody to fight racism of any sort. With collective effort, the problem of racism involving anybody or any nation will become a thing of the past.
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