In an advertisement late last week, Suburban Express - which buses students from the Urbana-Champaign area to O'Hare International Airport and other destinations - told customers they'll be able to enjoy being seated near "passengers like you" on upcoming Christmas break rides.
A bus company was on the defensive on Sunday after they advertised their bus trips to the University of IL as being superior because "you won't feel like you're in China when you're on our buses".
That comment has been met with backlash from university students and administration alike.
In response, the University of IL condemned the behavior and stated it has no business-relationship with the company.
"When Suburban Express says that riding with them allows a rider to sit with "students that look like you, ' based on the demographics of the university, we can only assume that the 'you" references the largest university demographic, white students", the coalition said in its post. To solve the problem, they admit large numbers of global students who pay higher tuition.
Following the condemnation from the University of IL, as well as a blast in media coverage and negative online comments toward the company, owner Dennis Toeppen issued a lengthy statement on Facebook attempting to clear up the matter.
Suburban Express was founded in 1983 by a sophomore U of I student who was dissatisfied with transportation options on campus - schedules, equipment quality, driver attitude, and other attributes.
The university has no business relationship with this company.
The Illini Democrats issued a statement on Facebook that calls for a criminal investigation into Suburban Express's ad.
Kaler said the campus is reviewing its policies to see if it has some recourse "when a company or an organization behaves so inappropriately.to send a clearer message to our university community that we're not associated with them, and that they ought to use caution when dealing with that company". I am very proud that so many University students have stood up and spoken out against Suburban Express and its offensive statements.
This isn't Suburban Express' first brush with controversy.
It said customers who wrote bad checks, used counterfeit tickets or reversed their credit card charges after using the shuttle service had cost Suburban Express and its customers thousands of dollars over the years and should be held responsible for their actions. He was later found not guilty.
State Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Monday that she issued a subpoena to the company over potential civil rights violations.
The company also runs a "Page of Shame", detailing complaints about customers and including their private information like names and phone numbers.
Last week, Illinois-based Suburban Express, a shuttle service available to students on numerous college campuses who are traveling to IL suburbs, published comments that have received backlash for being racially insensitive.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Suburban Express sent out an email Saturday promoting their holiday bus schedule. "That's because they all ride our competitor now", Toeppen wrote. The company acknowledged that it was an "ill-advised statement".
That statement seems to use the terms "Chinese exchange students" and "students from countries in Asia" interchangeably.
The Daily Illini responded to the latest controversy with a weekend editorial condemning Suburban Express for what it called its "brutal discrimination and false claims against worldwide students" who "only benefit" the student experience at the U. of I. A short time later (right), only one comment is visible on the post. I hope that University students will let Suburban Express know that all students are welcome on our campus, and that we want nothing to do with a company that tries to exploit racial discrimination for profit.
By Monday afternoon, those comments too had apparently been removed.