Penn Student’s Plea to Minority Applicants: Don’t Go Here


April 21, 2011
by Suada Kolovic
After a run-in with racism, a University of Pennsylvania student wrote an open letter to future minority applicants discouraging their attendance at the elite university. African American undergraduate Christopher Abreu said that his time at Penn has been filled with harassment, racism and an overwhelming sense of not belonging. “Ever since I came here, I have been self-conscious...I grew up in the projects, surrounded by crime and drugs. I came from there to here without much help, and in May I will graduate cum laude. But that isn't good enough. I've always felt like an outsider here,” he wrote.

After a run-in with racism, a University of Pennsylvania student wrote an open letter to future minority applicants discouraging their attendance at the elite university. African American undergraduate Christopher Abreu said that his time at Penn has been filled with harassment, racism and an overwhelming sense of not belonging. “Ever since I came here, I have been self-conscious...I grew up in the projects, surrounded by crime and drugs. I came from there to here without much help, and in May I will graduate cum laude. But that isn't good enough. I've always felt like an outsider here,” he wrote.

Abreu elaborates that for the most part, racism at Penn was usually subtle and something that most minorities came to accept as a way of life. But two “blatantly” racist encounters with students led to his open plea to minorities. In one incident, he claims four white students spoke to him in mock slang and asked him repeatedly, “You belong here or what?” while in another, Abreu claims that a white student called him a racial slur and asked him where he could, “get some fried chicken.” “I'm lucky that I only have a month left here. The social atmosphere and unwelcoming environment for minorities at Penn is more draining than any class you could ever take,” he said.

Future college applicants, what are your thoughts on Abreu’s personal encounters with racism at the University of Pennsylvania? Do you think that directing blame towards the university is misguided and his solution problematic?

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