Students from SUTD were harassed and called out by an anonymous person, after a heated email exchange between them that referred to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak as ‘Wuhan’.
According to a professor’s account of the entire incident on Facebook, it started with an undergraduate student, C, who came up with a virtual alternative to the SUTD Open House as the event was cancelled in light of the ongoing social distancing measures.
In C’s email to the entire university asking for volunteers to help him build a Minecraft version of SUTD, he said that the open house was cancelled “because of Wuhan”. The professor noted that “He had inadvertently left out the word “virus” but also referred to the virus using one of its original names that has now been replaced by the more neutral COVID-19”.
A PhD student from China who had received the mass email took offence at C’s choice of words and called him out for racism. The student, S, wrote, “Do mind your words and do avoid racism. It is due to COVID-19 instead of Wuhan. We are waiting for your apology”.
C apologized to S and the air was cleared.
However, a third person, one Chia Yiling sent another email criticising S for being entitled and ungrateful. The third email was circulated at the university.
Chia ended the email with an offensive statement saying “go back to your virus country”.
This led to a huge backlash against both C and S. However, in her Facebook post, the professor wrote, “After extensive searching, it was confirmed that no such person existed in SUTD and little public information was found, suggesting that this was a made up account set up for the express purpose of trolling. Instagram stories were also being shared with the two men’s names and email addresses provided, thereby opening them up to more online abuse. They had both been doxxed”.
In her Facebook post calling for students to come together, the professor wrote: “Let us not become a pawn in this petty game. We are better than this”. /TISG