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The Daily Illini

Suburban Express sends controversial Christmas email

By Jessica Bursztynsky, News Editor

Transportation company Suburban Express emailed its customers a racially charged message in its Christmas break advertisement Saturday morning.

Among a list of self-identified perks, the company wrote “You won’t feel like you’re in China when you’re on our buses.”

This sentence references the University’s high international student enrollment.

In a follow-up apology email, the company stated it “made a remark based on the fact that our competitor mostly handles Chinese international students.” While it did not state who their competitor is, the bus company Peoria Charter makes stops at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

It added it was not intended to be “a slap in the face of all non-caucasians.”

The statement then went on to disapprove of the way the University handles enrollment.

Because the University is a public school, the statement said, it should focus its efforts on providing education to Illinois citizens.

“U of I mismanagement over the past few decades has put them in a financial bind,” the email said. “To solve the problem, it admit large numbers of international students who pay higher tuition.”

This also places a “variety of burdens on domestic students.”

Illini Democrats released a statement shortly after the company’s two emails were sent out.

“We call on the Illinois Attorney General’s office and other relevant authorities to open a legal investigation into this discriminatory advertisement, and we will be following any such investigation closely,” Illini Democrats stated. 

Suburban Express is the one presenting a “variety of burdens,” not international students, the statement noted.

Suburban Express did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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What’s your reaction to the Suburban Express email?

Let us know by submitting a Letter to the Editor or commenting below.

More coverage

Editorial: Shame on Suburban Express

Letter to the Editor: Suburban Express doesn’t know how to apologize

Students on the Suburban Express ‘Page of Shame’ speak out

  • Bai Haotian

    I’m a husband, father, Army veteran, and proud citizen. I came to this country 8 years ago, I studied hard, worked hard, assimilated hard, fought hard to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic; I paid more taxes than an average U.S. Citizen; when I passed through the airport in my uniform everyone came up to thank me for my services to my country. When I see this story, I was heart-broken, is this really my country? They might be young and immature, and their English is probably not as frequent. But eight years ago I used to be one of them. So to any Suburban Express, am I any less American than you? Do these kids really deserve this?

    Actions like this make our country more divided. Local politicians, y’all need to make a good solution to prevent things like this from happening in the future. This story needs to be on the national headline.

    • SVV

      You are a wonderful American and America needs more people like you. You must concede, however, that many of the international students at UIUC are not like you. They are, after all, international, not American, students.

      The bus company’s ad is highly prejudicial. Nevertheless, it is not directed at upstanding American citizens like you.

  • Eric Jakobsson

    Yesterday I spoke at the funeral of a friend and scientific collaborator of 30 years at Illinois, See-Wing Chiu. See-Wing was from China. A number of years ago, I asked him why he did not seek a possibly available lucrative and prestigious job offer from Singapore. He told me he wanted his children to grow up in the US, because this was the best place in the world, in his opinion. Last night I saw the stories on line about the disgusting racist anti-Asian communications from Suburban Express. I am writing this for his children, now grown, to tell them that I will do all that I can to validate their father’s decision and his love for them and for America, by working against the racism that continues to infect American society and afflict our people and those around the world.

  • Jonathan Bressler

    This company have always been terrible and more interested in filing stupid lawsuits against tired college students. Burn this bus company to the ground. Shame it out of business. Given their business practices and their knack for taking advantage of people, I would feel no sympathy for the end of this service.