Racial abuse on US campus against Indian-origin student fuels debate

New York, Sep 24 (IANS) The University of Southern California (USC)-Irvine has condemned racial slur made by a fraternity member against an Indian-origin student leader that sparked debate on the campus and on social media, media reported.

Last week, a USC fraternity member hurled a racial epithet — “You Indian piece of s**t” — and threw his drink at Rini Sampath, student body president at the university, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.

Sharing the incident later on social media that sparked buzz on the campus, 21-year-old Sampath also lambasted racial abuse being experienced by other students from different ethnicities.

This prompted the university officials to distribute a letter on the campus when students gathered to express “sadness, anger and dismay” over the incident.

“The USC Inter-fraternity Council also issued a statement condemning the actions, standing ‘in solidarity with Rini’ and other victims of bias and supporting the unnamed fraternity’s decision to suspend the offending student’s membership and eject him from the chapter house,” the report added.

Sampath’s move to raise the issue on social media received support messages from users from India and Denmark.

Her post was even shared by Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“This story is really not about me,” Sampath was quoted as saying.

“It is about what the greater community goes through on a daily basis. I hope this creates a national conversation about race relations on campus, because these kinds of things do not just happen at USC,” she emphasised.

Sampath said the weekend incident brought back “a flood of memories” of racism in her life. She remembers when white girls would tell her she could not play with them because of her skin colour.

According to her, when she ran for the student body president, she received racist messages such as: “A vote for Rini is a vote for Al Qaeda.”

“My intention of making this public plea is so we can move forward, come up with solutions and come together as a community,” she urged.

Meanwhile, some defended the racial slur as free speech while others argued that the incident should have been handled quietly.

Sampath was born and raised in India, Singapore, Arizona and the Bay Area before moving to Irvine in Orange County, California.

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