"They Started Blowing Smoke in Our Face" - Wittenborg Staff Member
Chinese students and staff at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences, who have fallen victim to discrimination fuelled by the coronavirus, are among more than 57,000 people who have signed a petition denouncing such behaviour.
People with an Asian appearance have had to endure insulting remarks, aggressiveness and even physical threats. One member of staff from Indonesia said: "I was waiting at Amstel station with friends and a group of people started blowing smoke in our faces, saying 'f@&*king coronavirus'. And I'm not even Chinese!"
Absurd statements have also been levelled at Wittenborg where about 10% of its student population is Chinese. Wittenborg director, Peter Birdsall, told De Stentor newspaper they have even received an email from someone living in the vicinity of Wittenborg who wanted to know if it is still safe to let out his dog given "all the Asians" at the institution.
Another member of staff said he spoke to an Asian student who was stopped by a "Dutch guy" in the street who behaved aggressively towards him.
According to Birdsall, the university is taking precautionary measures and asked students returning to Wittenborg, and having travelled from China, to stay at home for 14 days. "Between 15 - 20 students went back to China around the Chinese New Year (25 January) and have in the meantime returned. The measures the institution is taking are just in case, but mainly to avoid such ridiculous discriminatory situations happening."
Around three Wittenborg students from Wuhan are still currently stuck in the city, the epicentre of the epidemic in China, and Wittenborg is supporting these students through online access to minimise possible study delay. Also, all students effected will be exempted from the strict 75% attendance rules at Wittenborg.
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press