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University of Illinois Shuttle Bus Called Out For Racist Undertones?

Julius Vaunado, Staff Writer

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The phrase, “You’ve dug yourself in a bigger hole,” is something that Suburban Express will remember as they have received much backlash for several “apologies.” Suburban Express is an Illinois shuttle bus company that services six college universities from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to the Chicago area. They are the cause of much controversy as they’ve produced an ad with racist undertones.

The ad in question, released December 2nd via email, promotes the use of the shuttle bus with reasons. The reason which sparked discussion proclaimed, “Passengers like you. You wont feel like you’re in China when you’re on our buses.” Many were outraged as they believed that the ad suggested that their competitor serviced too many Chinese exchange students at the University of Illinois. On the contrary, others defend Suburban Express saying that the ad suggested that their buses aren’t overcrowded or uncomfortable. Suburban Express quickly denounced this claim in their “apology.”

Ad released by Suburban Express with controversial sentence

The company issued an apology on their Facebook page days later stating, “We made a remark based on the fact that our competitor mostly handles Chinese international students,” and then continues with, “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.” The apology incorrectly stated nearly 20 percent of U. of I. students are from China and that the university was admitting them because they pay higher tuition. According to data from the university, about 12% of the student body is from China. The message claims that the high percentage of non-native speakers places a burden on domestic students and concludes, “We agree that having a healthy mixture of different cultures and ethnicities is valuable. But we’re not comfortable with the idea of selling our university to the highest foreign bidder. In any event, we did not intend to offend half the planet.”

Full initial apology by Suburban Express

A very popular response on Facebook by Ameya Pawar claims, “Dear Suburban Express: This is not an apology. This is an unbelievably offensive and bigoted response. Shame on you. Since you serve O’Hare International Airport, I am going to call for a hearing on your business practices. In the meantime, you may want to issue a real apology.” Senior Mia Witherspoon commented, “This is absolutely ridiculous. Not only do they make an offensive comment about a group of people, they also believe that their comments are justified. There should be some penalty.”

In response to the criticism of the initial letter, the company issued a new apology, calling the ad “incredibly inappropriate and harmful.” This apology appears to be written by someone else, possibly more officially, though it has not yet been confirmed. Currently Suburban Express is being subpoenaed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office to see if the company violated the Illinois Human Rights Act. Nothing is set in stone yet but who knows; maybe Suburban Express will get what they deserve.

Second apology issued by Suburban Express

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