The University is as culpable as people in the North, according to Chinese students
As reported by the UKrant, students studying in Groningen with Chinese backgrounds are regularly and openly discriminated against, with one that has been interviewed by the UKrant saying that “I don’t feel safe anymore here”.
The Ukrant’s piece interviews Lily, a Master’s Student in Multilingualism. Lily’s experiences with discrimination and racism have come from multiple sources- whether trying to hire a boat in Giethoorn with a friend, to having a series of ‘jongens’ shouting Corona-virus related obscenities at them.
Indeed, Lily’s first experience of racism in the Netherlands came at Groningen’s main station: showing that the attitude is seemingly somewhat pervasive in the North.
Başak Bilecen, a Professor of Theoretical Sociology, researches the various formal and informal discrimination faced by students with Chinese backgrounds. In recent months the Coronavirus pandemic has led populist figures to frame the virus in a way that has empowered racists across the West.
Emma, a Sociology PhD from the Province of Shanxi (just inland from China’s North-Eastern coast) has also experienced racism in the streets since the Coronavirus outbreak begun, with another young Dutch person screaming ‘Corona!’ at her and her friends.
Like another patently racist tradition in the Netherlands, Zwarte Piet, it seems that young Dutch people are not being influence correctly whether at school or at home with regards to the countries ‘traditions’. The UKrant’s piece refers to an incident in Tilburg in the south of the Netherlands where a Chinese-Dutch student was stabbed and lay on ground as a group of Dutch youths sung the carinival song ‘Voorkomen is beter dan Chinezen’. Beretta, who told the newspaper of the story, says that “I don’t feel safe here anymore”.
A double-edged sword
Professor Bilecen raises a more salient issue that may Chinese students in the Netherlands face: “they are seen as hard-working, quiet, and focussed on success”, which leads to a mixture of discrimination, out-grouping, and still immense pressure on work. Ranxi, a student of Art, Culture, and Media, recounted how during a class project she formed a team with another Chinese student and one Western student. The Western student quickly asked the lecturer to move to another team- with no particular reason given.
Issues also raised include the face that in the University, when a researcher or potential researcher appears in front of a panel they are likely to find several white, old, and possibly pre-disposed faces staring back. Indeed, one of Professor Bilecen’s reccomendations is that the University work harder on creating ‘Diversity Offices’; and provide safe places where students of all backgrounds can report discrimination when it occurs, safe in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously and that their complaints will be dealt with effectively.