On November 16, we, a group of volunteer students, unaffiliated with the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), organized a rally to promote awareness of public safety in the Hyde Park neighborhood, demand practical solutions, and build strength among the traumatized members of our community. Since then, we have received extensive feedback from the University and community members concerning our goals and actions. We want to clarify where we stand to promote better understanding between us and the rest of the University community.
Given that two of the victims who died this year are Chinese international students, and given the recent surge of violence against Asians in the U.S., the deaths of our friends have triggered tremendous sorrow, grief, and fear among the Chinese international student community. Most of us are here in the United States without family members or local connections—as Chinese international students, we are family to each other. We were driven to the rally by an enormous sense of loss and a desperate yearning for something to be done so that we would not have to greet another grieving mother.
We have never sought to advance our interests at the cost of the local community, nor have we denied the significance of investing in the community to curb violence at its root. We yearn for a safe and prosperous Hyde Park community as much as anyone else does. That’s why we are open-minded about the best strategies and practical solutions to improve public safety and welfare going forward, as long as they are indeed able to prevent the next tragedy; we hope for reciprocal open-mindedness.
The emotions that drove us to the rally should not be condemned or ignored. Simply denying us our right to express our anger and sorrow or denouncing us as “incorrect” or “unthoughtful” without acknowledging the loss of our loved ones’ lives does nothing to help us heal or to foster open conversation. We ask for concrete and effective measures to be put down as soon as possible to prevent the next death.
We believe we are a part of the Hyde Park community, and we strive to make it better as much as anyone else in this community, but we are only able to do so when our voices are heard, when our presence is seen, when our right to live is respected, and when our safety is defended as much as that of other members in the community.
We understand and acknowledge that public safety is an incredibly complex sociopolitical issue in the U.S., and we ask for more accountability and transparency on the part of UCPD.
We condemn racism of all forms. We strongly denounce entities that have used this occasion to advance their own political agenda. It’s a shame that our intention has been misconstrued, resulting in inappropriate comments or unwanted extrapolations by a few individuals and groups.
We had limited time and capacity to propose more solutions that are agreeable and applicable to all, but we hope that this rally can serve as a starting point for further conversations that bring long-term, fundamental positive changes to Hyde Park.
The 'We Want Safety' rally organizers are current UChicago students.