A police officer with the University of Illinois Police Department will join university officials' annual trip to China this year to address safety concerns for incoming Chinese students and their parents from China.
University Police Department said this is the first year a member of the police department is going on the trip.
"Our goal is to answer specific questions and ensure that our new students know about all of the safety resources available to them before they arrive on campus," Robin Kaler, associate chancellor for Public Affairs of UIUC, told Xinhua in an interview.
Meanwhile, UIUC has added special orientation sessions on campus, created printed brochures and newsletters and electronic information dealing specifically with safety issues of international students and scholars, Kaler said.
By taking these precautious measures, UIUC aims to step up safety and security education of Chinese as well as international students newly enrolled with UIUC, following the kidnapping of UIUC Chinese visiting scholar Yingying Zhang.
One year ago, on June 9, 2017, 26-year-old Zhang, on her way to sign a house lease, entered a black Saturn Astra sedan from a bus stop on the verge of the campus. She has not been seen or heard from since.
Police arrested 28-year-old Brendt Christensen, a former UI doctoral student, on June 30, 2017, charging him with kidnapping, torturing and killing Zhang.
Last weekend on the one-year anniversary of her kidnapping, UIUC held a memorial for Zhang, to remind people of her kindness, her diligence and her young life.
"The disappearance of Yingying Zhang was a horrible tragedy, and our community continues to grieve together," said Kaler. "We are currently partnering with our Chinese Students and Scholars Association to install a small garden near the bus stop where Ms. Zhang was last seen, as a way to honor her and keep her story on people's minds."
Kaler talked of the long and close relationship UIUC has with China, saying between 1910 and 1950, one third of all Chinese students who came to the U.S. to pursue a higher education chose to attend the UIUC. "We are proud of our historical ties to higher education in China, and we look forward to many more years of productive partnership."
UIUC has enrolled the largest number of Chinese students in the U.S.. Nearly one in 10 freshmen at UIUC comes from China. There are some 5,600 Chinese students studying here at present.
"Our Chinese students are bright, creative, collaborative and engaging. They contribute greatly to the scholarly and cultural strength of our university community," Kaler told Xinhua.
"Studying abroad is an exciting and rewarding experience," Kaler said, adding that safety is very important to everyone.