Note: The following statement was released to Chinese media summarizing the events surrounding the death of student ChenWei Guo. An English translation follows below. The University of Utah is committed to the safety of all of its students, visitors, faculty and staff.
犹他大学副校长兼学生主任 Lori McDonald博士表示，“对学生来说，犹他大学仍然是非常安全的地方。 事实上，近些年犹他大学一直在校园安全方面加大投入，建立了完备的校园安全机制。“在枪击事件发生后，学校的校园警报系统第一时间通过短信、电子邮件和社交媒体等渠道向全体学生和教职员工进行通知。校园每年全天候24小时都有大学公共安全部的人员巡视。整个公共安全队伍包括70多人，而且都是资质过关的犹他州警察。除了监控和响应警报、控制大学设施门禁以及巡视校园外，该部门还提供全天候的安全护送服务。必要时，盐湖城警察局、犹他州高速公路巡逻队和盐湖城警长办公室也为犹他大学提供必要的支援。
In 2017, many in Mainland Chinese society had frequent concerns about safety of students studying overseas. The recently released 2017 Report on the Study of China’s Study Abroad pointed out that, given the gradual trend of younger students going abroad and the persistence of racial discrimination, the safety of Chinese students studying overseas needs to be treated with caution. Many media included the study’s findings when summarizing key events and news — including the shooting near the University of Utah campus — about overseas study.
Guo Chenwei, a 23-year-old Chinese student, was fatally shot on the night of Oct. 30, 2017. The school issued an alert to teachers and students that day and issued a statement on Oct. 31 to announce the suspension of classes to mourn for Guo Chenwei. The suspect in his death was arrested on Oct. 31, 2017, and faces prosecution on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and more than 10 other counts. If the charges of murder are substantiated, the suspect may be sentenced to a maximum penalty of capital punishment. According to facts from the aftermath, Guo Chenwei was not targeted because of his ethnicity or country of origin. His misfortune was due to a random, stupid act of violence.
Lori McDonald, associate vice president and dean of students at the University of Utah, said, “Utah is still a very safe place for students, and in fact, Utah has been investing heavily in campus safety in recent years to establish a comprehensive campus security mechanism.”
After the shooting, the university’s campus alert system was the first to notify all students and faculty members via text message, email and social media. The campus is staffed by teams from the University Department of Public Safety 24 hours a day. The entire security force includes more than 70 people and is a certified Utah police agency.
In addition, the department also provides round-the-clock security escort services and also monitors and responds to alarms. As necessary, the Salt Lake City Police Department, the Utah Highway Patrol and the Salt Lake City Sheriff’s Office also provide the University of Utah with support.
According to federal government regulations, the university publishes statistics on campus crimes every year. Like most universities in the United States, the primary criminal activities on campus are theft and violation of the state’s alcohol control laws. Any form of violent attack is rare. Only police are allowed to openly carry firearms on the U campus. Students living in residence halls are not allowed to be in possession of firearms. If a person wants to buy firearms in Utah or carry a concealed weapon, he or she must be at least 21 years of age without any criminal record. Additional training is required to be permitted to carry a concealed weapon.
“The university also offers a host of support services for all students, including international students, such as personal counselling (in most languages), security training for professors and classes, etc. After the shootings, Utah will pay even more attention to our students’ safety,” McDonald said. “The passing of Guo Chenwei had an impact on everyone, but it also brought the university closer in unity.”
To pay tribute to Guo Chenwei, the University of Utah suspended classes on Oct. 31 and held two memorial services. Teachers and students also expressed condolences to Guo Chenwei on Facebook. Guo Chenwei’s parents wrote an email to the university saying, “We are very touched by the testimonies from teachers and students who have known him. Obviously, Guo Chenwei achieved much with everyone in the past two years.”
It is understood that Guo Chenwei’s relatives and friends set up a Guo Chenwei Family Foundation, designed to help people in need of assistance. Currently, the foundation’s official solicitation website shows that more than 700 people have raised nearly $40,000.
The tragic experience of Guo Chenwei was an accidental event. Studying safety problems requires careful consideration. Students should not give up their studies due to worrying about their safety. At the same time, they should be aware of their safety and prepare accordingly, such as learning more about foreign laws and regulations, the social environment, rentals, travel, entertainment, dating and other aspects of life abroad. In an emergency, students need to know how to seek help. When students have adequate preparation and response strategies, they will have a successful and fulfilling time studying abroad.