I have been reading about the chilling story of the abduction and (presumably) murder of the researcher, Yingying Zhang, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, over the past few days and wondered what is actually done in U.S. colleges to teach international graduate students / researchers about campus safety?

  • 10
    I don't understand why international students should receive a specific education about campus safety. Is there any difference with respect to US students? – Massimo Ortolano Jul 2 '17 at 15:48

From my personal experience, the university or department typically mentions the presence of campus police and the protocol to contact them in the case of emergencies. But that's about it. People generally assume that you're an adult and know how to take care of yourself.

  • 1
    On a related note: at my university they post "Where to find help" signs on all bathroom doors (bathrooms are one of the most likely places for people in distress to go to, First Aid 101). These signs contain emergency contact numbers for campus security, local police non-emergency and emergency numbers, suicide hotlines, local sexual assault survivor hotlines/shelters, etc. So it's generally expected that, even if you are never directly told, this information is relatively easy to find. – CuriousFindings Jul 2 '17 at 17:28
  • @CuriousFindings: "bathrooms are one of the most likely places for people in distress to go to" - hmm, aren't bathrooms also one of the most likely places for bad things to happen that would cause people to need help in the first place? – O. R. Mapper Jul 2 '17 at 22:47
  • @O.R.Mapper Not really related to the question but, people who are choking (most common example) or otherwise in distress are likely to feel embarrassed or will want to find privacy. The most accessible place to find privacy in public tends to be the washroom. (I used "bathroom" before. I generally see the terms used interchangeably, but I would like to clarify that I am not talking about public showers.) – CuriousFindings Jul 2 '17 at 23:02
  • @CuriousFindings: All right, as the question was asking about campus police, I was rather thinking of crime-induced distress. – O. R. Mapper Jul 3 '17 at 4:37

I would first recommend that you take a course in statistics and check how many people become victims of crime in the USA every year, and whether this story is outside of what you would expect statistically. Then compare it with statistics for fatal accidents in China, for example, and you might find out that it is safer for the average foreigner to move to the USA, where for example the chances of dying in a traffic accident are lower. (Or much better yet, to move to the UK).

You might also compare his risk with the risk of domestic accidents. If you advise international students (and all other students, and everyone else for that matter) to be careful when climbing onto step ladders, not to drive while intoxicated or on drugs, and not to use their phone while driving, that might safe more lives.

  • 5
    Not an answer to the question. – GEdgar Jul 2 '17 at 12:30
  • 2
    Before you ask "what is done" you should ask "does anything need doing". – gnasher729 Jul 2 '17 at 12:32
  • 1
    @gnasher729 I could accept a well-justified "Nothing needs to be done" as an answer, but "Does anything need doing?" is a comment to the question, not an answer. – David Richerby Jul 2 '17 at 12:59
  • 1
    Before you ask "what is done" you should ask "does anything need doing". -- If the question had been "What should be done...?", you might have a point. But the actual question is "What is actually done...?" – JeffE Jul 3 '17 at 16:37

Generally in the US, campus police departments are active, easy to find, and very willing to help members of the university community.

For example, googling "University of Illinois campus safety" immediately yielded with this webpage. It offers advice, a description of services offered by the police department, and opportunities to attend self-defense and safety programs or to speak with "safety experts".

Universities might also offer a short presentation on safety during campus orientation. This, too, is likely to focus on what services are available and whom to contact to learn more.

These resources are likely to be freely available to any member of a university community, whether international or not, who seeks them out.

  • 4
    "campus police departments are active, easy to find, and very willing to help members of the university community" - while I do not claim that such information could be hard to find in any case (or that US campuses are particularly unsafe), it should be noted that "campus police departments" are not a thing everywhere around the world. Without reading Academia SE, I would never have fathomed such a thing to exist. – O. R. Mapper Jul 2 '17 at 19:46
  • 2
    @O.R.Mapper even more fascinating are the "blue lights" emergency phones everywhere on US university campuses. Somehow this makes me feel less save since you don't need those at EU universities. – DSVA Jul 2 '17 at 22:18

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.