Friday, January 23, 2009

College School Violence

by Connie Park

Xin Yang, a 22 year old from Beijing, China, arrived in the United States on January 8, 2009, to pursue the American dream. She wanted to further her education and hoped for the opportunities that are available here to have a better life. Xin Yang began her studies as an accounting major at the prestigious business school at Virginia Tech less than a month ago. On January 21, 2009, her hopes and dreams came to an abrupt halt.

At approximately 7:00 p.m. on January 21st, Xin Yang and Haiyan Zhu, a 25 year old Chinese national student, and several of their friends were having coffee at the Au Bon Pain Café located at the Graduate Life Center on the Virginia Tech’s campus. Haiyan Zhu apparently was a friend who Xin Yang listed as her emergency contact. Shortly after 7:00 p.m., the Virginia Tech campus police received two 911 calls from the Graduate Life Center. Shortly after the calls, police arrived and discovered Xin Yang’s decapitated body at the location. There were seven witnesses who observed the horrific incident.

According to the
Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech’s newspaper, the police affidavit stated that the first arriving officer found Zhu holding Yang’s head and blood on his clothing. The murder weapon was a kitchen knife was recovered at the scene.

Virginia Tech’s Campus
Police Chief Wendell Flinchum stated that, “It was a horrific crime scene and the victim had been decapitated. There was no motive for the slaying.”

The alleged suspect, Haiyan Zhu, was charged with first degree murder and is being held without bond in the Montgomery County Jail. There have been no police reports or any kind of problems with Zhu in the past. Zhu is an international graduate at Virginia Tech from Ningho, China.

This incident comes shortly after the
Virginia Tech Massacre that occurred on April 16, 2007. The massacre was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Seung-Hui Cho, a 23 year old Virginia Tech student, killed 32 people and injured 21 people in two hours. The first shooting occurred at approximately 7:15 a.m. at a residence hall where he the two victims. Cho then proceeded to the opposite side of the campus to another residence hall and continued his rampage and shot additional victims. He eventually turned the gun and shot himself in the head.

Cho had a history of mental illness beginning in middle school where he was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and depression. In 2005, a judge deemed Cho mentally ill and that he was “an imminent danger to himself and others”. One professor asked Cho to seek professional counseling. Additionally, Cho was accused of stalking two female students in 2005.
It appeared that Cho was planning the shooting massacre for months. Police officials traced the handguns that were found by Cho’s body and found he had purchased the handguns back in February and March of 2007.

This brought on the debate of gun control laws again in the United States. As a result of this incident, there were rapid changes that were made to the Virginia gun laws. In addition, a major federal gun control law was signed that created tighter measures and standards with NICS-
National Institute Criminal Background Check System signed by President George W. Bush on January 5, 2008.

This Wednesday incident only brought back the horrible memories to the Virginia Tech students and faculty members.

In light of recent school campus violence, Congress and the Senate passed the
School Safety Law Enforcement Improvement Act on February 26, 2008. Senate bill S.2084 was sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The Act provides the following:

-assistance programs to improve safety and security of school institution of higher education

-firm pilot programs to develop cutting edge programs for schools

-funding for school campus police

-improvement to the
Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act of 2003

-focuses on prevention

-incorporates the
Terror’s Hoax Improvement Act of 2007

The question still remains of why there has been an increase in school violence over the years and what solutions and programs will improve the safety and security issues.


FleaStiff said...

Risk analysis? We always seem to worry about things that are very slight risks and to ignore the much greater risks. Decades ago the lone gunman in the Texas Tower incident prompted endless debates amongst the news commentators about safety. Your chances of getting killed in some such incident are very slight. A drunk in a bar room, a gang-member, a motorist ... all are likely to be greater threats than some demented soul who starts off decapitating an acquaintance and then goes on a shooting spree involving random victims.

Are there nutcases out there? Sure there are! Direct your attention to the occasional nutcase and you are distracting yourself from paying attention to the much greater threats.

Its similar to the famous yachtsman who focused on boating safety by staying in good physical condition and being intimately familiar with how to sail his yacht properly. He did NOT focus on liferafts and the usual survival gear that would make departing his yacht easier. He paid attention to the primary goal. Sailing well. He did not focus on the obscure and unlikely.

Anonymous said...

My husband is a university professor and has taught since 1970. He has had many foreign students. Sadly in many cultures violence is an everyday occurrence. He has seen a student slice his wrists lengthwise. He has heard horror stories from Iranian, Lebanese, Iraqis, Chinese and Nigerian students. He has been told, If you don't let me into graduate school I will be sent back to my country and killed."

I believe they should do close screening and special counseling for foreign students. Especially the countries with warnings for US citizens not to into.

I know it maybe considered as profiling but it would save lives, theirs and ours. With our boarders as porous as they are and the amount of foreign students we have here it could only benefit their mental health and serve as crime prevention. said...

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