UI should defend international students, disallow Suburban Express services

After reading Friday’s article about Suburban Express, I would like to say I am appalled by the company’s suspected actions of discrimination and malicious aggression toward our students. The discrimination I am referring to is from a recent incident in which a driver operating a Suburban Express-affiliated bus who, according to the company is not a Suburban Express employee, allegedly made discriminatory remarks toward an international University of Illinois student based on her ability to speak English.

If true, the discrimination toward one of our students, and the student outcry resulting from this bus company should be enough for our University administration to work with local government officials to consider possible involvement to create measures that protect our students from companies such as Suburban Express. The supposed discriminatory words from the driver and the bus company’s actions toward prosecuting one of our students who took actions to defend the international student for reportedly being harassed by the driver are not values that the University of Illinois promotes and are not ones that we as Illini share. This is a University that prides itself in diversity, integration and tolerance, and in a matter such as this, when both University of Illinois students are involved and there is public student outcry, the University administration should not be silent.

Our international student population is one of the many things that makes this University great and one that our administration needs to be willing to defend. The international student presence that we hold at the University is something that we should all be proud of and willing to defend when we see that a fellow international Illini is being unjustly discriminated against. University of Illinois students and administrators should stand united when defending our own and should not take for granted the power of our voice united as one.

The owner of Suburban Express preys upon those defending our students and has time and time again found manipulative ways to profitably take advantage of our students. I would suggest a student ban on Suburban Express and that actions be looked into disallowing its services on the University of Illinois campus. If the company, and its agents or affiliates, would like to be maliciously operate elsewhere in Champaign, they have a right to do so, but it should not take place on our campus where we promote a mission of inclusion and respect for all people.

I have never used Suburban Express, and I never intend to. I do not have a horse in the transportation side of the race, however, as an Illini and soon to be alumnus, I do not want our students to be discriminated against or taken advantage of by a company such as Suburban Express.

Richard Chalkey,

Senator Emeritus of the College of Business