My trials and tribulations at Quinnipiac University

A letter from Helen Dong

By on December 5, 2017

My name is Zhuoqi (Helen) Dong. I am an international student from China, completing the second year of my 3+1 Business program with a double major in international business [IB]  and computer information systems. China and the U.S have very different educational systems and I am fortunate enough to have experienced both. I first came to the U.S as a senior in a Massachusetts public high school where I enjoyed a busy, but very pleasant experience. I was pleased to be able to sit in an American classroom, talking with American students, putting together bits and pieces of America with which I had only been acquainted from Hollywood movies. Everyone in my class was curious about my culture, and I was happy to share what my parents and grandparents had taught me with my classmates.

I felt very proud to be able to call myself a QU Bobcat! Freshman year was rigorous, but my classmates and professors helped turn rigor into productivity. I tried to adapt myself to the new environment. One of the biggest decisions that I made at Quinnipiac was to run for election in the Student Government Association (SGA). Campaigning afforded me personal engagement with many of my peers, and friendships taught me to cherish every single moment that I spent in the U.S. China’s one-child policy allowed me no siblings. However, a seat in the SGA gave me a family thousands of miles from home, and helped me adjust to college life. My freshman year was so beautiful that I told all my friends in China that I had an extended American family, and that all my family members respected my culture and were always willing to know more about it.

After a long summer break (yes, a summer break in U.S is way longer than a summer break in China), I was ready to begin my second year journey in school. Yet, this fall a surprise was brought on to me. Some of you may be aware that I was impeached and removed from the SGA on Nov. 8, because of my removal of a misplaced flag on Oct 23. On that night, while I was attendi   ng the annual international business dinner, I saw a regional flag from the Chinese Taiwan, but no Chinese national flag. As every person knows, the U.S recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate representative of the Chinese nation. Misplacing of the flag was quite surprising as it was inappropriate to substitute a national flag with a regional flag.

I assumed that it was a mistake on the part of the organizers. To save the IB Society (of which I am also a part as an IB major) and QU from any controversy, I asked for permission from two IB faculty advisors to remove the Taiwanese flag. With the professors’ permission, I removed the flag, folded it and handed it back to the organizers in a respectful manner. And this happened before the event formally started. However, I was accused of removing the flag in a disrespectful way afterwards and an impeachment process was initiated against me soon thereafter, to remove me from the position of an office-bearer at the SGA. The hearing was held on Nov. 8 when I was impeached and removed the same day in spite of the fact that I removed the flag with respect and with faculty advisors’ permission! The unfairness of the process and disrespect for evidence presented by the investigation committee stunned me. I am still trying to understand how the SGA’s impeachment committee could keep a straight face when delivering an impeachment decision built upon fabricated “key facts.”

The impeachment process was an ordeal for me. My treatment in the hands of the SGA has made many international students feel unwelcome on campus. I worry about — and we should all worry about — Quinnipiac’s emerging reputation as a breeding ground for ignorance and intolerance. Despite my bitter experience, I would like to say thank you to all who supported me. I would also like to say thank you to SGA members who chose to be mean-spirited. The incident has put on display human decency as well as human frailty. I hope this incident would allow Quinnipiac students to dig deeper into our souls, learn more about the world, treat the root cause of the SGA’s brazen challenge to logic, fairness, and human decency, and try to become informed citizens of the global village.

I look forward to continuing my work for a better world.

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