Monday November 7, 2011

A Mourning Campus

The campus community gathers together to mourn the loss of two University of Dayton engineering students who died in a weekend car accident.

"They were nice kids. Friendly. Humble. Our hearts were shattered in pieces when we got the news." 

That's how Yilun Zhao, a junior accounting major, described the mood on campus today after University of Dayton students learned shortly after noon two engineering students from China died in a single-car accident early Sunday morning. 

Hanqing Wu, a 19-year-old electrical engineering major from Suzhou, and Zhongyi Xu, an 18-year-old civil engineering major from Nanjing, died when their car hit a tree and burst into flames on Mad River Road in Washington Twp. 

By 3 p.m., more than 150 students gathered in the Kennedy Union Ballroom to grieve and support one another. Many were Chinese. Some lived on the sixth floor of Marycrest where the two students lived in single rooms in different wings. One sat silently on a park bench outside the student union, tears streaming down his face. 

"We're here to be in community and to support one another," said Amy Anderson, director of the Center for International Programs. "We want to share our memories and help each other through a difficult time." 

Members of the Center for International Programs, Campus Ministry, Counseling Center and Student Development staffs were available during the informal gathering to talk with students and offer their support and prayers. Weiping Wang, assistant provost, is providing support to the students' families in China. 

University of Dayton President Daniel J. Curran shared the news about the students with the campus community shortly after the families in China had been notified. 

"I ask you to reach out, support each other and pray for these students, their families and friends, our close-knit and growing Chinese student body and our entire campus community," Curran wrote in an e-mail to students, faculty and staff. 

A moment of silence will occur before the women's and men's basketball season openers this weekend, and a campus memorial service is slated for 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13, in the Kennedy Union Ballroom.

The Center for International Programs is encouraging international students to be in contact with their families and to ask their parents to e-mail with any questions or concerns.

The University of Dayton enrolls approximately 500 students from China, the most from any country outside the United States.