University of Sydney head tutor resigns amid accusations of racism towards Chinese students

A UNIVERSITY of Sydney tutor has resigned after news of his reported dissent and racism towards Mainland Chinese international students broke on Friday, April 15. Samantha Chew reports.

Photo: Andrea Schaffer via Flickr

Mr Wu’s alleged online racial rants became a viral sensation in China, drawing the ire of Chinese nationals upset by the inflammatory comments made by the former University of Sydney head tutor. | Photo: Andrea Schaffer via Flickr

The University of Sydney has accepted the resignation of former head corporate finance tutor Wei Wu, after recent news of Mr Wu’s alleged online racist rants broke on Friday, April 15.

Media outlets reported the former head tutor had allegedly published comments and videos of seemingly racist nature towards Mainland Chinese international students across Chinese social media platforms, Weibo and Wechat. Mr Wu’s online remarks quickly made its way to China where further reports of Mr Wu’s inflammatory statements garnered more than 30,000 comments, report the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Wu has since apologised for the comments he made online and asked for forgiveness from the public in a statement released by the university.

“I would like to sincerely apologise for the inappropriate and disrespectful comments I made on the internet. I will refrain from such remarks in the future. I have also resigned from my employment at the University of Sydney,” the former head tutor said.

The initial outrage was sparked on social media when Mr Wu, under the screen name “Pekojima”, was accused of calling Mainland Chinese international students “pigs” with low IQs. Among other posts, Mr Wu had also commented that his Australian students were far more interesting than those originating from China.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s translation of Mr Wu’s alleged posts, the head tutor recently obtained an Australian citizenship and made comments such as, “My mum’s mind has developed to this extent of ‘It is shameful to become a Chinese’, better than most people,” and “I am going to teach FINC2012 in the first semester and start misleading our students”.

In another post, a video of what appears to be a Chinese passport on fire could be seen held over a toilet with a pair of tongs.

International student officers from the University’s Student Representative Council (SRC) had called for his dismissal, labelling his actions as “extremely inappropriate”.

Other University of Sydney students took to social media or spoke with news outlets to express their fear over any bias or injustice they might have to face if he was allowed to continue tutoring.

A petition by The Sydney University Business Society was also created to condemn Mr Wu. The petition was soon picked up by Facebook community page, USyd Rants, where comments by Facebook users suggested a different story.

Some users explained that Mr Wu’s comments may have been taken out of context, implying his rants were not racially motivated but instead politically motivated.

In an explanation of Mr Wu’s use of the word ‘pig’ in reference to Chinese international students, one Facebook user explains that as a result of the Chinese government’s strict censorship rules, the term ‘豚’ (which translates to ‘swine’) was used to describe Chinese citizens who blindly support government policies regardless of its consequences. Additional comments also suggested Mr Wu was criticising the communist nature of the Chinese government and the students that stand behind it.

A counter-petition defending Mr Wu soon emerged, claiming the PhD candidate to be “a victim of the Chinese government’s increasingly intrusive attempts to curb voices of dissent among overseas Chinese”.

Dr Pun, National President of the Chinese Community Council of Australia (CCCA), argues however that having a political view was not a justified defence for Mr Wu. The CCCA also urged students to launch a class action against the former head tutor.

The Dean of the University of Sydney’s business school, Greg Whitwell, echoed Dr Pun’s sentiments condemning the remarks made by Mr Wu.

This is not the first time The University of Sydney has come under fire for its staff. In 2014, the University launched an investigation over a string of emails written by Barry Spurr, a former professor and consultant on the National School Curriculum. The emails contained racial slurs towards Aboriginal Australians and Asians and other derogatory slurs used to women and Muslims. After the university issued a suspension, the former University of Sydney professor handed in his resignation which was accepted.

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