The University of Utah agreed to pay a $5 million settlement to the parents of an international Chinese student who was murdered by her boyfriend in February last year.
Zhifan Dong, 19, died at a Salt Lake City motel room on Feb. 11, 2022 in what was considered a domestic violence homicide by her then-boyfriend Haoyu Wang, NBC News reported.
The settlement became public on Tuesday in a state legislature resolution, in which lawmakers will vote on enacting the conditions of the settlement. Dong’s parents, Junfang Shen and Mingsheng Dong, filed a notice of claim last year that the school was negligent.
The university released results of an internal investigation this past July which found that their housing staff failed to respond to Dong’s concerns about her boyfriend, which included reports of physical assaults.
The settlement acknowledged the university’s failures to protect Dong and promised improvements have been made.
“The university acknowledges shortcomings in its response of its housing and residential education team to the complex situation that resulted in Zhifan Dong’s death and acknowledges the terrible loss that the Dong Family has suffered,” the school said.
University president Taylor Randall also commented on the agreement being a “commitment to the ongoing work of addressing all aspects of student safety” in a statement, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
“No one should have to endure the loss of a child to violence and our university will remain diligent, continue to improve, and advance the health and well-being of our students,” Taylor said.
In addition to the financial settlement, the university also stated that they will create a memorial on-campus in Dong’s memory.
“While we continue to mourn Zhifan’s death, we are grateful to take this important step toward justice for our daughter,” Dong’s parents said in a statement.
“It is our hope that Zhifan will be remembered and that her memory will inspire others to help prevent intimate partner violence and save lives on campus and in all our communities. We hope she will inspire other victims to seek help and to leave their abusers.”
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