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As Hate Crimes Soar, U.S. Universities at Risk

Informed Comment

By Juan Cole / Informed Comment

A tsunami of reports about hate crimes directed at minorities is coming in from all over the country in the wake of Der Donald’s presidential win. African-Americans have also been targeted, as with students at the University of Pennsylvania. As have Latinas/ Latinos.

Ann Arbor, my town, was shaken when word got out Saturday that on Friday evening a man approached a veiled Muslim University of Michigan student and demanded she take off her veil or else he would use a cigarette lighter to set her on fire. She complied. I understand that she has now flown back to her country of origin.

Alert Date: Nov. 12, 2016
Alert ID: 2016-13/AAPD#16-51924

CRIME ALERT

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
DIVISION OF PUBLIC SAFETY and SECURITY

Date of Incident: Nov. 11, 2016, between 5:30 and 7 p.m.

Location: 600 block of East William near S. State St., off-campus

Offense: Intimidation

Summary: As told to the Ann Arbor Police, a student was approached by an unknown man, who demanded she remove her hijab or he would set her on fire with a lighter. She complied and left the area. The Ann Arbor Police are actively investigating.

Suspect: (as described by witnesses): White male, 20-30 years old, average height, athletic build, bad body odor, unkempt appearance, intoxicated with slurred speech

If you have any information, please contact the
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN DIVISION OF PUBLIC SAFETY and SECURITY at (734)763-1131
or the Ann Arbor Police Department Tip Line at (734)794-6939 or tips@a2gov.org

In Wisconsin, a Saudi student was recently beaten to death.

There are about 1 million international students studying in American universities– nearly 5% of the country’s undergraduate population. Very large numbers of them are on government scholarships or are from wealthy families in their home countries, and the bulk of them pay full tuition. But they also rent apartments and go out to eat, and shop. These international students bring in $30 billion a year to the US economy.

At the University of Washington, the 18% of the student body who are international are the ones who pay so much in tuition (3 times the in-state rate) that they support the 25% of mainly American undergraduates who are given full tuition scholarship by the university.

Let me repeat that. One of the few ways American undergraduates at our universities are avoiding crushing debt is by getting scholarships, and in some universities it is the tuition paid by international students that generates the money the university then gives out.

Some 80% of my university’s operating budget comes from tuition, since ALEC-like lobbyists have convinced the state to cut its support of higher education to a minimum. There are virtually no real state universities any more. Many of the wonderful scientific inventions created at universities are made possible in part by the tuition paid by international students.

It isn’t only veiled Muslim women who are afraid. Racial bigotry is indiscriminate. Sikhs have been attacked, and any person of color could be, in this atmosphere.

Creating a negative atmosphere for Muslims, African-Americans and Latinos in our country is a good way to hand ourselves an extra $30 billion bill for higher education. It is our traditions of openness and relative tolerance that have allowed us to reap this benefit, and it is often the children of the white working class who most benefit from it.

Some of these students end up staying after graduation, becoming scientists, physicians or entrepreneurs and contributing further billions to the US economy.

A significant percentage of our physicians is Muslim, and immigrant physicians are the ones most likely to service more rural areas. Likewise our math teachers are often immigrants.

Those international students who go back to their home countries can become lifetime ambassadors for their American experience, helping create a positive view of our country abroad.

But the young woman, and for all I know she was my student at some point, who was threatened with death in our town, may never return to graduate and won’t be able to report a positive experience of the US back home.

We should all be ashamed that these incidents happened in our country, and Der Donald most of all should be ashamed of himself, for not condemning this or any of the other hate crimes his inflammatory and vicious speeches have provoked.

Juan Cole
Contributor
Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan and the proprietor of the Informed Comment e-zine. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in…
Juan Cole

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