A Malaysian student claims he has been sent hate mail and death threats stemming from racism every day since he became the student union president of the Scottish university he attends.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Raj Jeyaraj said becoming Strathclyde University’s student union president was the best thing to happen to him, but he was not prepared for the racism that came afterwards.
“I have experienced a lot of abuse online, where people have even threatened to take my life.
“I only have one arm and people say that I deserved to lose my arm,” the postgraduate biomedicine student said, as reported by The Huffington Post.
It was also reported that he lost his left arm in an car accident in 2009.
The 25-year-old said people would accuse him of having links to terrorist attacks and told him to “go back to his home country”.
The messages he receives every day, he said, are hurtful and confusing.
Some of the messages contain detailed and explicit language, he said, sent to him from anonymous email addresses or fake profiles on social media.
Formerly, he was a diversity officer in the student union, and he believes his transition to president has made people uncomfortable.
“Here I was, a non-white person, from Malaysia, leading a student union,” he said in his post on Facebook.
He also tried to be more accessible and visible as a student leader, he said, which he believes may have led to the level of harassment against him.
Other students have also been targets of these racist attacks, he said.
“They especially target students who are here away from home or chained by parental pressures and expectations, or judged by others even in their own communities,” he said.
Police efforts to curb the harassment have been unsuccessful, he said.
In his previous semester, Raj said he spent 15 hours a week giving statements to the police for more than four weeks.
Not allowed to walk home or on the streets
He was also highly monitored during that period and said he was not allowed to walk home or on the streets as the police said it was “unsafe” for him.
Despite that, he said, the police could not track down the identities behind the anonymous emails and fake profiles.
“I spent five hours giving a statement every time a student got a threatening email - I was never able to get anything else done.
“The police would sit for hours every day asking if I did anything to instigate this, blaming my every move.
“So I just stopped reporting. My students stopped reporting,” he said.
However, he said with his help, the student union and the university now know the extent of the problem they have.
Many students also would never have spoken about the harassment, or quietly dropped out of their studies if it was not for him, he said.
“There is so much pressure because so many students are holding on to me for strength, hope and to be an anchor.
“But they are my source of energy.
“I want students of all backgrounds, cultures, and experiences united, empowered, and believing that they have the power to decide, design, and build how they live, the society they live in, and the future they want to see,” he said.
His Facebook post has garnered many comments from his fellow university students, most of which have been very supportive.
Many have said he is doing an amazing job as the student union president, praising him for his work and saying he is an inspiration to them.
A commenter, identified as Nanna Trixy Currans, also said he has helped her as a disabled student.
“You helped me as a disabled student to see further.
“I’m ashamed I couldn't help you further and I pray for you and the future you can provide for the students at Strathclyde,” the comment read.
It was also reported that a Strathclyde University spokesperson said that the university has a “zero tolerance policy” to racism.
“We do all in our power to deal with it head-on when it is brought to our attention, as well as supporting anyone who may experience discrimination,” the spokesperson said.- Mkini