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USC Plants A Tree In Remembrance Of Slain Graduate Students

Shako Liu and Zhao Chen |
April 12, 2013 | 12:34 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporters

A tree was planted yesterday on the one-year anniversary of the deaths of Ying Wu and Ming Qu. (Shako Liu)
A tree was planted yesterday on the one-year anniversary of the deaths of Ying Wu and Ming Qu. (Shako Liu)
USC hosted a tree planting ceremony at the Viterbi School of Engineering yesterday in memorial of Ying Wu and Ming Qu, the two Chinese graduate students who were shot down near campus precisely one year ago. 

Grieving school officials explained at the memorial how security has improved in the year since the shooting. Denzil Suite, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, said they have created educational programs and activities for students to learn more about safety and security issues in the USC area.

“The university always has international services and campus activities to help students learn about the culture,” Suite said. “I do think that it’s incumbent on students who have been here to transmit the value and knowledge to the people who are coming to the U.S., especially [since] they are coming from a different country.”

Former President of Chinese Students and Scholars Association Haowang Wang discussed the visible increase in security officers patrolling the USC area after the incident. The shootings will have a life-long impact on USC's Chinese student community, he said.

“I still can’t help missing Wu Ying and Qu Ming," said Yuzhe Wang, an engineering student from China. "I still feel sad even though a year has passed."

There is talk of a scholarship fund being established in honor of Wu and Qu. The victims were shot in a used BMW around 1 a.m. on April 11, 2012, leading many to question the security of the area surrounding USC. 

The incident also raised questions about USC's international students' level of awareness of safety at college, especially with those from China, a country generally disassociated with violent crime. USC has the largest number of international - and Chinese - students in the nation, many of whom arrive in the U.S. largely unaware of gun culture and violence, much less how to protect themselves. It is important to note that sitting in a car chatting after hours in a dangerous area is not generally something that many Americans would do. 

The shooting provided a glimpse of a campus divided between international and American students. Many students from China exclusively socialize only with each other on campus, and without a formal cultural orientation, may not have understood the risks of what they otherwise saw as normal behavior. Tianlin Qian, a friend of the victim Qu, said she hardly saw any exchange between American and non-American students outside of classrooms.

“It depends on the group of people,” Qian said, “After all, there is a huge cultural difference. You can’t force people to cope with your cultural habits after class.”

He said he wanted to see the shooter be brought to justice, and the suspects' delayed trial made him feel uneasy.

The aftermath of the shooting also further enforces a negative image of the South Central neighborhood.

“We have a bad reputation now. We don’t only care about the people who are missing, but also people feeling that this is not a safe area,” said Jacqueline Hamilton, Wu's landlord. “[Living in the neighborhood] provides an opportunity for USC students to feel good about the area... and also to understand that we are just ordinary people and not threatening."

Reach Senior Staff Reporter Shako Liu here.

Reach Staff Reporter Zhao Chen here.



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