The student union president of a top Scottish university claims he has been stalked, harassed and sent death threats by racists since taking on the role.
Raj Jeyaraj, leader of Strathclyde University’s SU, has spoken out about the abuse he says he and other non-white student officers face, saying he “wasn’t prepared” for the racism he now goes through “every single day”.
“I have experienced a lot of abuse online, where people have even threatened to take my life,” Jeyaraj, who is originally from Malaysia, said. “I only have one arm and people say that I deserved to lose my arm.”
In an impassioned post on Facebook about the anonymous emails and messages he has received, the 25-year-old wrote: “They would blame me and accuse me of being linked to terrorist attacks, of bombing countries, or simply every single fucking time something wrong happened in the fucking world.”
Jeyari, who has been in the job six months, believes he is an easy target for trolls because he tries to make himself as “accessible” and “visible” to Strathclyde students as possible.
“Since Brexit and Trump, people don’t feel like they have to hide their racism any more,” Jeyaraj told The Huffington Post UK.
Although he has reported the death threats to police, he says because the abuse is sent through anonymous email websites the trolls are almost “impossible” to trace.
“It’s difficult for police to deal with these things if they are not resourced properly,” the postgraduate biomedicine student added.
But despite the abuse, Jeyaraj says it is vital that he and other students of colour continue to put themselves forward for leadership roles so they can help other victims of racism.
“Without me being the type of person I am, many students would have never spoke about what happened to them to anyone else,” he wrote.
“Without me being me, some students would have quietly dropped out (of) their studies without anyone knowing why. So many resort to self-harm, self-medicate and self-blame down a spiral hole.
“I want students of all backgrounds, cultures, and experiences united, empowered, and believing that they have the power to decide, design, and build how they live, the society they live in, and the future they want to see,” he continued.
“And my jobs allow me to do that. Little by little, day by day, student by student.”
Many students at the university have come out in support of Jeyaraj and his work.
One man named Gary Robert Brown wrote on Facebook: “You are doing amazing things, changing the world by helping people. Never forget your much you matter to people.”
Another added: “You helped me as a disabled student to see further.
“I’m ashamed I couldn’t help you further and I pray for you and the future you can provide for the students at Strathclyde.”
A spokesperson from Strathclyde University told the Herald that the institution has a “zero tolerance policy” to racism.
“We do all in our power to deal with it head-on when it is brought to our attention, as well as supporting anyone who may experience discrimination.”