Jaeryeon “Joey” Lee is an exchange student from Seoul, South Korea. He has been in Troy for about two months now, and his stay has been plagued with a series of humiliating events.
A couple of weeks ago when Lee was walking toward his dorm in Gardner Hall from Trojan Village, ketchup packets were thrown at him.
“I thought my friends were joking,” Lee said. “When I turned around, there was no one, but a dark-colored car with a Troy plate had just passed by.
“The car turned around and passed us again.”
According to Lee, there have been a couple of other instances where people would shout racial slurs like “Ching Chong” at him.
Last Saturday, another occupant of a dark car threw a can of dog food at Lee. Although the can didn’t hurt Lee, he was shaken. He went to the campus police and reported the incident, but since it was past 9:30 at night, the police couldn’t be of immediate help.
“It was very weird,” said Lee. “It was very embarrassing.”
Lee is not the only student to experience culturally inclined harassment in Troy. Sichang “Simon” Park, a junior computer science major from Busan, South Korea, said he had similar experiences.
“I was walking behind Hamil Hall,” Park said. “A big car passed by.
“They smashed a beer can to surprise me and said something like ‘Ching Ching Chong.’ ”
Park said he did not think much about this incident because the perpetrators were clearly drunk. However, when he learned of Lee’s events, he realized the problem was more serious.
“When they start to physically harm you, it becomes a bigger problem,” Park said.
In his most recent episode of harassment, Lee was walking on campus with a friend who was holding bananas in his hand. According to Lee, an SUV passed by and a person from inside shouted vulgar remarks.
Lee reported these events to the Center for International Programs and also took the issue to Herbert Reeves, dean of student services. In doing so, he might expose an ongoing problem of cultural insensitivity and harassment at Troy University.
Maria Frigge, associate dean of international student services, says that there have been no reported cases of international students being a target of such bullying.
“It’s really frustrating and sad to hear students on campus have been treated this way,” she said. “I don’t know if we can point to a particular thing that is causing this, but we do not tolerate it.”
International students can often find themselves alone and helpless in these situations. Frigge encourages students to report to and communicate with the Center for International Programs. She also explained that students do not have to write their names on these reports and can maintain their anonymity.
Bystander intervention is another important idea being discussed.
Frigge said: “If you see something, take action, call 911, contact the administration, but don’t put yourself at risk.” She encourages students to take care of each other.
Troy is home to a large international student body. Such disrespectful behavior to one international student can signify disrespect for every international student, causing animosity within the student population and sullying the name of the university.
“You should know that your actions are spoiling your minds as well as the face of your country,” said Lee.
It is important that all students feel safe on campus. It is also important to utilize the resources available to us.
We have campus police and a counseling center to provide help with confidentiality. These issues can be resolved only if they are taken to the authorities because the administration cannot solve problems that are never reported.