Crime & Justice

USC responds to murder of 2 students from China, tries to reassure students, parents of safety

A small memorial set up at the house of two USC graduate students from China who were shot and killed, April 11, 2012.
A small memorial set up at the house of two USC graduate students from China who were shot and killed, April 11, 2012.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC

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As word spread about the shooting deaths of two graduate students from China near campus, a network of support services sprung into action at the University of Southern California.

USC officials met with officials from the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles about the grim logistics of notifying relatives in China about the deaths of engineering graduate students Ying Wu and Ming Qu. An education liaison with the consulate, Chen Zhun Ming, was helping with the arrangements.

"We are aware of the danger, but we have never thought it would be so serious. It’s such a tragedy,” Ming said.

University officials are also coordinating efforts to help the students’ parents come to Los Angeles and to return their children’s remains to their home country.

“The people I have spoken to have been really torn up about this," said Clayton Dube, advisor for the Chinese Students and Scholars Association and the executive director of the US-China Institute at USC.

About 2,700 students from China attend the school. They are about a third of the international student body at the university that enrolls more foreign students than any other in the United States. Dube said he's sensitive to how quickly and how far bad news can spread.

“We have so many students who are so far from their families, that you can count on those families raising all sorts of questions," Dube said. "It’s going to be important for the students to communicate with their families, and for the university to communicate with those members of our much larger community, that we are doing all we can to ensure that every student here gets not just a great education, but is safe.”

Like the students who died, Yang Li attends USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. The shootings, he said, bring to mind the way the stay-safe advice he heard during orientation conflicts with the expenses students like him must handle.

“The USC close-by area has the highest rent in the region," Li said. "That’s why a lot of students live far away from the school, like here, or without any security, so that’s an issue. They don’t offer enough on-campus housing.”

In the immediate aftermath of the shootings, counselors and USC’s Office of Religious Life have been on hand to offer support and answer students’ concerns.