University of Utah student Zhifan Dong reported fearing for her safety. She was found dead weeks later.


buried from Documents The University of Utah revealed on Tuesday a series of failures that led to the death of a Chinese student, allegedly at the hands of her ex-boyfriend.

Salt Lake City police found 19-year-old international student Xifan Dong dead in an off-campus hotel room on February 11, when they responded to reports from the University of Utah Police Department that a man was threatening to kill his girlfriend, Officials said. According to the report, Dong’s ex-boyfriend, Haoyue Wang, 26, was also in the room when police arrived and claimed that he killed Dong before attempting suicide with drugs. It was Wang charged with murder She will face a hearing on August 8, according to court documents.

For weeks before Dong’s death, the university learned that she was in a serious state of intimate partner violence, according to a timetable Issued by the university. On January 14, Dong reported Wang’s suicidal thoughts to housing staff and told them that her boyfriend had been arrested by police two days earlier after an altercation with her, the timeline indicates. was issued Temporary precautionary order by the police after the accident. The university added in the timeline that there is currently “no process or regulation requiring local police departments to notify colleges or universities of arrests or protective orders relating to students.”

Billy McGartland, Dong’s roommate who is also a student at the school, told campus newspaper Dong helped file domestic violence reports and requests for health checks.

“I was very angry,” McGartland told the Daily Utah Chronicle. “It could have been completely prevented.”

The documents that were published later Salt Lake City Tribune Lobbying for the release of the case’s public records, he described how former university dormitory employees delayed notifying the university’s police department about reports of intimate partner violence. University President Taylor Randall said it also provides evidence of “inadequate and unprofessional internal communication,” as well as “processes, procedures and courses in housing that need to be clarified and improved.”

“Although the university made extensive efforts to support and ensure Dong’s safety and provide assistance to Wang, our self-evaluation revealed shortcomings,” Randall said.

Officials also reprimanded housing staff in a message them in mid-March for not raising Dong’s case to “luxury”, a higher rating for concern. The letter was among the documents released this week.

Xifan Dong.Courtesy Dong family

Dong’s parents, Junfang Shen and Mingsheng Dong, both from China’s Henan province, said the university had “failed” their daughter.

“We have trusted the University of Utah regarding our daughter’s safety, and they have betrayed that trust,” they said in a statement provided to NBC News by their attorney. They knew Jeevan was in grave danger but failed to protect her when she needed her most. We don’t want her death to be in vain.”

Their attorney, Brian C. Stewart of Parker and McConkey, said in an email that the family has kept his company and plans to sue the university for failing to take the necessary steps to protect Dong.

The same company also insured a Multi-million dollar settlement From the university in October 2020 in a wrongful death suit. In this case, track athlete Lauren McCluskey called campus police more than 20 times to report that he had been harassed by her ex-boyfriend before. he killed her In October 2018. University officials was martyred There have been improvements in communication and coordination between public safety and other departments since McCluskey’s death, but an independent audit released in April, after Dong’s death, identified weaknesses such as delays in officers receiving timely information.

In a statement, Stewart said it was “unjustifiable for the university to continue to make the same mistakes with the same tragic consequences.”

The university’s president said the university will implement regular audits for behavior and incidents of racism and bias in university-run housing, among other reforms.

Misidentification was among the failures in Dong’s case

Among the mistakes made by the University of Utah that led to Dong’s death, her name was repeatedly confused with that of Wang in a meeting with housing staff, internally Documents Released by the university presentation. University officials also mistakenly called the number of another student on campus who shares the same name as Wang. As per schedule. The university staff finally arrived at the right Haoyu Wang.

misidentification It could be an example of racist behavior rooted in colonialism and is a common problem faced by many Asians in the United States, including international students, said four professors who study Asian-American and Asian diaspora studies.

“There is a lot of longstanding research on facial recognition that tells us that we are more likely to recognize people of our race, and identify people of other races,” said Natasha Warico, a professor of sociology at Tufts University. “Some research shows that contact with another race reduces this bias.”

According to Mai Ngai, Professor of Asian American Studies at Columbia University, the misidentification of people of Asian descent by Westerners dates back to the European colonial period in China. She said that the colonists “did not bother to record the form of any individual, because they did not see them as individuals.”

When the Chinese immigrated to the United States, racism followed. In her book “The Chinese Question: The Gold Rush and Global Politics,” Ngai wrote in the nineteenth century, Chinese people were often convicted of crimes by white jurors who had difficulty distinguishing Chinese from one another.

“This is a very long history,” she said. “This idea persisted, that the Chinese were just a huge, undifferentiated and incomplete person.”

Takeo Rivera, an assistant professor at Boston University who teaches Asian-American literature, said the feeling of “interchangeability” in people of Asian descent still plagues American society today, particularly in higher education, where there are a disproportionate number of Accreditation To international students for tuition fees.

Rivera said that Dong’s case “is really a mixture of orientalist interchangeability with a patriarchal system of power and control that we see as a kind of cross-culture of straight men.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help at (800) 799-SAFE (7233), or go to For more. States also often have domestic violence hotlines.

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline At 800-273-8255, write HOME to 741741 or visit For additional resources.

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