Culture

He Has A Student Visa, But This Migrant Says Dating Is Hard Because Everyone Assumes He Wants A Green Card

Writer Kalle Oskari Mattila who moved to New York from Finland using a student visa obtained through his Columbia University admittance penned a personal essay detailing how xenophobia has permeated his dating life. Mattila says that his immigration status inevitably comes up on dates, and guys expect detailed responses from him. 

He believes this ongoing pattern he has noticed is due to the United States’ tumultuous relationship with immigration policy. Mattila posits that if everyone in the country is preoccupied with who is “allowed” to be there and who might be getting removed, it can be hard to imagine yourself dating an immigrant or worse, you might convince yourself they’re only after a green card. 

Stereotypes about immigrants marrying for green cards have always pervaded American media. 

“As it becomes harder to immigrate to the United States, the idea of the green-card marriage looms ever larger. TV shows like “90-Day Fiancé” perpetuate an image of immigrants who will go to extreme lengths to secure a green card from a relationship,” Mattila writes in the Washington Post. 

The Seattle Globalist noted that while marriage rates in the U.S. have declined, “green card marriages” have remained rather high. They cited the example of Oregon’s first lady Sylvia Hayes’ admission that she had previously married an Ethiopian immigrant for $5,000 so that he could stay in the country. 

In 2011, out of 270,000 marriage-based green cards, only 3,924 were discovered to fraudulent. Thus, the practice remains largely in the minority, and the stereotype can be harmful to immigrants who are just, well, trying to date. 

“Here, a steady immigration status seems to be a prerequisite for a stable relationship. Generally, I’ve dated liberal, big-city, educated people who believe in open immigration. Yet when it comes to their dating lives, they often resemble vigilant border-control agents,” Mattila said. 

He would then be forced to explain what an F1 student visa is, and when they’d ask how he is was still in the country after completing graduate school, he would explain to them he was allowed through a program called OPT. 

“Well, as a full-time writer,” Mattila would tell them so that he would sound more like a catch. “I qualify for something called the O-1. It’s a visa for people of extraordinary ability. Justin Bieber is on it and so is Hugh Jackman. Most people think Melania Trump married for her green card, but she actually got her visa because she proved herself to be extraordinary in modeling.”

Mattila noticed that his supposedly open-minded friends saw being an immigrant as a downgrade.

“My American friends have shared stories of how they’ve blocked people on Tinder the minute they’ve gotten an inkling that a prospect might be after a green card,” he wrote. 

A previous relationship of his resulted in his boyfriend dumping him after accusing him of only wanting a green card.

“I’d been accepted for graduate school and would begin my studies under a four-year F1 visa — a visa I’d earned on my merits — he told me he wanted to end things,” Mattilda wrote. “Later that night, he yelled at me, saying I’d used him. He implied I’d been in it for the green card.” 

The responses from friends and prospective love interests has left Mattila so deflated he stopped dating altogether. Instead, he is focusing on his career and entering the next phase of the immigration process. 

“I don’t want my dating life to resemble a never-ending immigration interview, where I have to make a case for myself, hoping the person across the table sees me as extraordinary enough to let through. I deserve to have a say in that, too,” he said. 

Stereotypes about immigrants damage the public perception of them.

According to the Atlantic, a study conducted by USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center and the journalist Jose Antonio Vargas’s nonprofit, Define American, found that stereotypes were pervasive on television shows that aired between 2017 and 2018. The organization analyzed 143 episodes of television from 47 different series that aired during the time frame. 

“TV immigrants in the study also tended to adhere to stereotypical associations with crime, incarceration, and low education levels. Though multiple studies have shown that immigrants don’t commit more crime than native-born citizens, 34 percent of TV immigrants were linked to a past or current crime, and 11 percent of characters were mentioned in reference to a current, previous, or future incarceration,” according to the Atlantic

A study by the University of Chicago found surveyed 1,500 non-Latinx whites, they found that someone’s immigration status determined their perception of whether they had committed a crime. 

As long as the rhetoric of the President and media portrays immigrants as criminals, immigrants will be viewed as untrustworthy. It’s no surprise that these attitudes go beyond the institutional and enter our everyday lives.

Major Investigation Reveals That Most Popular Dating Apps Aren’t Keeping Users Safe From Sex Offenders

Things That Matter

Major Investigation Reveals That Most Popular Dating Apps Aren’t Keeping Users Safe From Sex Offenders

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A 16-month investigation conducted by Columbia Journalism Investigations found that the Match Group which owns 45 popular dating apps like Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and OK Cupid does not screen for sexual offenders. Match Group does audit users for sex crimes on their namesake property Match.com, but admits that on its free platforms it expects users to police themselves. 

The CJI report found that the policy leaves users vulnerable to sexual assault, and multiple victims have reported rapes because of it. Tinder, the company’s most successful app, has 5.2 million subscribers. Altogether Match Group is worth $1.7 billion in revenue. Many feel the publicly-traded company owes its subscribers more protection. 

Susan Deveau says her Plenty of Fish date raped her. 

When 54-year-old Deveau met Mark Papamechail on Plenty of Fish in 2016, she had no way of knowing he was a three-time convicted rapist. In Massachusetts, he was listed as a dangerous registered sex offender. After going on several dates, Deveau reported to the police that Papamechail raped her. She was the second woman to report Papamechail for rape after meeting him on a dating app. 

According to the app’s terms of use subscribers must “promise” they haven’t committed a felony, sex crime, or violent crime by agreeing to it. Thus the only method of screening is an honor system that assumes any user would actually read through the lengthy agreement. The company does not try to verify or screen for whether users are being honest or not. 

There’s a reason why Match.com screens for registered sex offenders.

Before Match Group bought up its competitors and became publicly traded, it agreed to screen for sex crimes on its flagship property Match.com. When the company expanded it didn’t extend this policy to its catalog of 45 apps. Match.com only agreed to check its users against the government’s sex offender registries after a public complaint from Carole Markin in 2011.

Markin says she was raped by a man she met on the platform on their second date. Afterward, she discovered he was convicted of rape six times. Markin was able to make her lawsuit public having been an entertainment executive herself. Under pressure, Match.com’s lawyers revealed they had begun implementing the screening process that utilized the government registries. Eventually, Markin settled.

A Match Group spokesperson told CJI that the free platforms don’t collect enough data to create a uniform screening policy. 

“There are definitely registered sex offenders on our free products,” the spokesperson said

CJI found at least 157 incidents of sexual assault across dating apps. 

Most of the assaults happened within the last 5 years. Almost all of the victims were women who met their attackers on a Match Group dating app. 

“In 10% of the incidents, dating platforms matched their users with someone who had been accused or convicted of sexual assault at least once, the analysis found. Only a fraction of these cases involved a registered sex offender,” according to the investigation. 

However, what was most notable was that Match.com, which does have a screening policy, had no assault cases. Match Group’s spokesperson said that tens of millions of people use their platform, therefore 157 cases aren’t enough to warrant an overhaul. 

 “[Match Group] takes the safety, security, and well-being of our users very seriously,” the company said in a statement. “A relatively small amount of the tens of millions of people using one of our dating services have fallen victim to criminal activity by predators. We believe any incident of misconduct or criminal behavior is one too many.”

Some employees told CJI they don’t think the company goes far enough to protect users.

According to the investigation, many who worked at Match Group feel the company doesn’t equip or train them to deal with sexual assault complaints. Some said the process also fails to prevent more harm even after an incident has been reported because banned users can easily make new accounts.

“The problem has grown as the popularity of online dating has soared — in 2015, 12% of American adults were on a dating site, compared with 3% in 2008,” according to the report. “In 2016, the UK National Crime Agency reviewed police reports over a five-year period and found online-dating sexual assault had increased as much as 450% — from 33 to 184 cases.” 

CJI surveyed 1,200 women who used a dating app with the last 15 years. A third of the women surveyed said one of their dates sexually assaulted them, half of these women said it was rape. Match Group refused to comment on the questionnaire. 

Only five states have regulations to protect online daters, but those measures largely exist to prevent scams. With little pressure for the industry to change and as more victims come forward the future of online dating remains uncertain.

Harvard’s Only Latina Professor Was Denied Tenure, Sparking Student Protests and a Larger Conversation About Institutional Racism

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Harvard’s Only Latina Professor Was Denied Tenure, Sparking Student Protests and a Larger Conversation About Institutional Racism

@DivestHarvard / Twiter

Harvard has long been regarded as one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the US, if not the world. The Ivy League University has 36,012 students and 2,400 faculty members from over 150 countries. But although Harvard often boasts of the efforts they make to diversify their students, their faculty, and their curriculum, their track record has been less than stellar. That has been no clearer than in the recent turmoil surrounding the denial of their only Latina Professor, Lorgia García Peña. 

Once students learned of the University President’s decision to deny Garcia tenure, they were dismayed. Garcia’s tenure had been watched closely by the student body throughout the year, some going so far as to conduct a letter-writing campaign on her behalf earlier in the year. Once the initial disappointment at the decision faded, some students felt the need to take action. 

On Monday, roughly 50 students took to Harvard’s University Hall to protest Professor García’s tenure denial.

Although there is a Non-Discrimination and Affirmative Action clause in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences Appointment Handbook, students believe that the decision to deny García tenure “exemplifies bias in the review process against professors of Ethnic Studies, whose scholarship and mentorship often put them in tension with Harvard’s administration”. 

In light of the upsetting denial of Garcia as a tenured professor, students drafted a petition with a list of demands aimed at the administration. The petition demands that the administration provides students with an explanation as to why Garcia’s tenure was denied. Students also demand a formal investigation into the alleged reasoning behind the tenure denial, with a specific focus on possible unconscious or structrual bias. Last but not least, the students demand the formal establishment of an Ethnic Studies Division–a request that the student body has been pursuing since 1972. 

For college professors, securing tenure is widely thought of as the most important accomplishment in their academic career.

According to The American Association of University Professors, becoming a tenured professor means that you “can be terminated only for cause or under extraordinary circumstances”. In other words, it is a professor’s permanent job contract, which grants them greater academic freedom and protects them from being arbitrary fired. Usually, a professor is granted tenure after a probationary period of six years after which they’ve established themselves as valuable to the institution they’re working for. Usually during this time, they’re expected to publish academic research and findings to prove their value.

According to Professor Robert Anderson of Pepperdine University, tenure means that professors “are the most secure” in the unpredictable game of university politics. “[Tenured professors] are more like debt holders. If anyone bears the risk, it’s the staff who get tossed in the trash to save faculty”.

The uproar over Garcia’s tenure denial represents the larger struggle that many Latinx academics face when trying to establish themselves in higher education. 

As Latina Harvard student Mercedes Gomez tweeted on Monday, “Harvard flaunts its diversity and its admission numbers, but refuses to do the work to cultivate an environment for its students of color to feel safe and represented”. This statement rings true

As for the broader Latino community, they have not stayed silent on social media when commenting on Harvard’s questionable decision.

The fact itself that Professor Garcia is the only Latina on the faculty on the tenure track is room enough for skepticism. 

Harvard student Mercedes Gomez is especially invested in justice for Professor Garcia. 

https://twitter.com/gomezsb_/status/1201607299741212672?s=20

Let’s hope that the students’ activism spurs Harvard to re-think their decision.

This Latina academic has some chilling stories to tell about the way POC academics are structurally oppressed by academic institutions:

https://twitter.com/yarimarbonilla/status/1201689622583160832?s=20

The evidence seems to be piling up that these professors are denied tenure because their ideas don’t align with the institution’s bottom line. 

This Latina made a valid observation about how boringly predictable these tenure outcomes for WOC have become.

https://twitter.com/allisonefagan/status/1201864198403305472?s=20

The problem with institutional racism is that it’s so insidious–it’s often hard to see when it’s in front of you. And it’s even harder to call out.

This Latina is angry simply at the denial because of Garcia’s stellar resume. 

https://twitter.com/marisollebron/status/1201597626233315329?s=20

It’s frustrating to see that Ivy League institutions recruit off their claims of radical inclusivity, but their administrations don’t follow through when it comes to changing the structures of their institutions. 

The reason for Garcia’s tenure denial should be made public and then investigated. Because if this isn’t evidence of institutional racism, we don’t know what is.