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Confronting Racism in Academia: An International Student’s Experience at a Canadian University

Written by Umme Tasneem Hyder

In the heart of academic institutions, where knowledge and enlightenment are supposed to thrive, it is disheartening to encounter the persistent shadows of racism. This is the real story of an international student from a Canadian university, who faced racism at the hands of a professor.

The student, hailing from a South Asian background, came to this prestigious Canadian university with high hopes of advancing their education and contributing to the global academic community. They were eager to learn, engage with new ideas, and share  unique perspectives. However, Their experience was marred by the actions of a professor who held prejudiced views against colored people.From the very beginning, he noticed subtle yet undeniable signs ofdiscrimination. While his classmates received encouragement and constructive feedback, he was often met with less attribution even when he was anxious and completely new to everything Less contributions in class were noticeable but professor encouraging other students didn’t even bother to help the brown student to overcome the fear, and he was rarely called upon to share his insights. It became clear that his skin color and international background were influencing the professor’s treatment of him. The professor’s behavior was deceiving which is a very common ground in Canadian background.  You don’t learn and understand who is genuinely trying to help you and who is feeling uncomfortable with your presence.  This gave the student a very wrong  understanding as he is not used to dealing with racism.

Still the student tried to do his best while struggling to cop up. then tragedy happened, the professor took the student’s hard work a final report to academic integrity saying the student copied the report which was not true and it was proven later date. This incident curved a grave impact on student’s mind doubting his abilities and his place in the academic world. The excitement and enthusiasm he once felt for his studies were replaced by anxiety and frustration. This is a profound injustice, not just to him, but to the principles of equality and respect that academia is supposed to uphold.


What makes this situation even more troubling is the power dynamics at play. Professors hold significant influence over their students’ academic careers, from grades to recommendations. When this power is abused, it can have lasting repercussions on a student’s future.


Unfortunately, this story is not an isolated incident. Many international students face similar challenges, navigating both the academic rigors of their studies and the additional burden of racial discrimination. This is a call to action for universities to recognize and address these issues head-on.

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