Subjected to Racism & Assault in US College, I Returned With PTSD
My dream to earn a PhD in the US turned into a nightmare.
Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
My dream to earn a PhD in the US turned into a nightmare. I left India thinking I’ll return to my country with the honourable PhD degree – but instead, I returned to India with PTSD.
I suffered racism at the hands of Hispanics while I was in the USA, which led to a medical condition called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I had to drop out of the doctoral programme in City University of New York, and returned to India.
It has been two years since my return. I have been sitting at home with neither a degree in hand nor a job.
It all began in 2011 in a south Texas college, University of Texas, Brownsville, located right on the USA-Mexico border. The place was almost entirely populated by Hispanics (people from Mexico and South America) and Spanish was the main language spoken. The University, likewise, was a HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution).
In the college, I was regularly hazed by a student from Sri Lanka who also carried out multiple sexually profane acts in my house. One night, in August 2011, he assaulted me.
I complained to the college – represented by the Hispanic adjudicator David Mariscal.
After I complained, Mariscal initially reacted with alarm at my complaint. However, upon finding that another Hispanic student – with whom the Sri Lankan guy previously carried out sexually offensive acts in my house – would get compromised, Mariscal made a U-turn and shut the case in record time, asking me not to mention it again.
In one stroke, UT Brownsville violated my civil rights, employee rights (I worked as a graduate assistant there) and also confiscated my freedom of speech – which is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
I underwent counselling and was taking medication ever since. I finally dropped out of UT Brownsville in 2012. Later that year, I joined Texas A&M Commerce for a Master of Science degree. This experience led to me developing a physiological condition called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
After earning my MS in Physics, I joined the PhD programme in City University of New York in 2014. Medical counselling and prescribed medication became my constant companion from 2011 until the end of my stay in the USA in 2016. I could no longer cope with the pressures of PhD and had to opt out of my doctoral programme.
That was not the full extent of the suffering I endured. I tried to get some recourse for my bad experiences by filing for a U visa. It is a compensatory scheme by the US government for those who are victims of physical and/or psychological abuse while working in an American institution. Police in Brownsville also acted suspiciously and quoted non-existent rules and refused to sign a document which they were supposed to sign. This put an end to my U visa claim.
I also sought help from the Indian Consulate in Houston in 2013, where an official promised to take up the issue with the college, but then reneged on his promise. I was shocked by their move. Are they not supposed to stand by Indian expats in their times of need?
Although the incidents happened between 2011 and 2014, I still suffer from PTSD and depression. Sitting at home, with no future, has, if anything, exacerbated the problem. I now try to forget the events of the past so that I can pick up the pieces of my life, though this is much easier said than done.
I wish the authorities would take action and ensure that Indian students studying abroad are not harassed or victimised.
I have recently self-published the 2nd edition of an eBook on Amazon, Spoilt Past, Future Tense. The last few years have been rife with stories of Indians being shot, kidnapped and killed in the USA. Every month there is such a story on major media outlets. At least I lived to tell the tale.
(The Quint has reached out to Hispanic adjudicator David Mariscal from the University of Brownsville. This story will be updated once we receive a response from him.)
(The author has self-published an e-book on Amazon called ‘Spoilt Past, Future Tense.’ You can reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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