Donald Trump victory spooks Indian students as election backlash rocks US campuses
American college campuses from Boston to Los Angeles have struggled to come to terms with Donald Trump's victory
New York: American college campuses from Boston to Los Angeles have struggled to come to terms with Donald Trump's victory. For the most part, the campuses have been rocked by anti-Trump protests, but there are growing episodes of barefaced hostility against foreign students and minorities.
Flyers showing beefy white men, wielding assault rifles against the background of a fluttering American flag, sprung up like poison ivy on Wednesday in the sprawling Texas State University campus calling for "tar and feather vigilante squads."
The image used appears to be from a 2007 YouTube comedy series titled Vigilantes.
Other flyers advocated stuffing the Rio Grande River with alligators, snakes and flesh-eating piranhas, so students could watch the "gladiator spectacle" of Mexicans and immigrants "rush the wall only to get stanched and eaten by predators".
"It's frightening and quite uncomfortable to see this virulent outburst of animosity directed at non-white students," said Reema Bhosale, who is enrolled for her Masters in Economics at Texas State University.
"I live in a campus residential hall with a lot of other Indian students so we are taking precautions by staying in groups when we go out at night," said engineering student Amar Kumar, who is a member of the large Indian Student Association at Texas State University.
On Tuesday, Trump beat his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton with a 10 percentage point lead in Texas which is America’s largest red state. Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) data released by US immigration authorities’ show that the maximum Indian students, over 37 percent, study at schools in fiercely conservative Texas and the two bluest of blue states; California and New York.
"One of the core values of international education is about celebrating diversity and learning from differences," said Dr Rahul Choudaha, co-founder of interEDGE.org.
"Trump’s viewpoints are insular... It’s likely that policies will start looking inward and slow down international education exchanges and student mobility," said Choudaha. "Trump’s anti-immigrant stance may create stricter visa and immigration policies that may make it difficult for students to come to the US and find internships and jobs."
For decades, the US has been the gold standard in education and exerted a strong pulling power on Indian students. India sends the second biggest contingent of foreign students to America after China. According to the annual Open Doors report compiled by the Institute of International Education, the number of Indian students enrolled in US institutions rose to 132,888 in 2014-2015. However, the vitiated atmosphere in US college campuses after Trump’s victory could put off foreign students.
Within days of Trump’s mercurial victory, posters promoting a white nationalist organisation called Identity Evropa led by Iraq war veteran Nathan Damigo were plastered across campuses urging Americans to protect their White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) “heritage”.
The obnoxious Texas State and Identity Evropa flyers are just the tip of the iceberg.
"At San Jose State University in California, a Muslim woman complained that she had been grabbed by her hijab and choked. The police are investigating," reported The New York Times.
Meanwhile, thousands of students from the University of Texas, Austin, the University of Southern California and universities in New York have spilled out of classrooms to take part in massive anti-Trump street rallies.
"Not my president," shouted vocal students in rallies from the East to the West Coast.
A colossal "white-lash" helped Trump clinch the presidency. He was propelled by angry male white voters unhappy with the status quo who bought into his evocative promise to "Make America Great Again". A first-time politician, Trump ran one of the nastiest presidential campaigns by playing the race card, but Americans are hoping that he will not govern like he campaigned. Still, Trump has let the genie out of the bottle and the impact is being felt across American college campuses.
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