Univ. of Utah to pay $5 million to parents of slain international student Zhifan Dong


The University of Utah revealed today that it will pay a $5 million settlement to the moms and dads of a global trainee from China who was eliminated in 2015.

Zhifan Dong, 19, passed away in what authorities state was a domestic violence murder in a Salt Lake City motel space on Feb. 11,2022 Her then-boyfriend and fellow trainee, Haoyu Wang, has actually been charged with her death. An internal evaluation the university released in July revealed that school real estate team member stopped working numerous times to acknowledge Dong remained in risk in the weeks leading up to her death.

” While we continue to grieve Zhifan’s death, we are grateful to take this crucial action towards justice for our child,” Dong’s dad, Mingsheng Dong, and her mom, Junfang Shen, stated in a declaration Tuesday about the contract. “It is our hope that Zhifan will be remembered which her memory will motivate others to assist avoid intimate partner violence and conserve lives on school and in all our neighborhoods.”

Wang, 26, has actually been charged with murder and is jailed. He has actually been stated inept to stand trial and has actually pleaded innocent through his lawyer, Joseph C. Alamilla.

In the settlement, the school acknowledged its failure to secure Dong.

Zhifan Dong.
Zhifan Dong. Courtesy Dong Family

” The university acknowledges imperfections in its action of its real estate and domestic education group to the complex circumstance that led to Zhifan Dong’s death and acknowledges the awful loss that the Dong Family has actually suffered,” the school stated.

University President Taylor Randall stated the arrangement shows the school’s “severity in honoring Zhifan Dong” and “dedication to the continuous work of resolving all elements of trainee security.”

Dong’s “murder is a tip that intimate partner violence is a social issue that goes beyond borders and cultures, and manifests in lots of methods,” Randall stated in a declaration. “No one ought to need to sustain the loss of a kid to violence and our university will stay persistent, continue to enhance, and advance the health and wellness of our trainees.”

Dong’s moms and dads stated in an interview in July that the university had actually not been upcoming about errors in reacting to their child’s security issues.

” We felt betrayed and lied to,” they stated. “This is governmental conceit, contempt for life, and an unforgivable error.”

On Jan. 14, 2022, almost a month prior to she was eliminated, Dong signaled the school real estate department that Salt Lake City cops had actually jailed Wang 2 days previously and implicated him of attacking her throughout a run-in, according to university files. Real estate workers didn’t flag the arrest to school authorities till a month later on– after Dong had actually vanished. Records likewise revealed that team member consistently puzzled Dong’s name with Wang’s and incorrectly called the contact number of another trainee who shared the exact same name as Wang, who is likewise a worldwide trainee from China.

The school stated the arrangement will be voted on in the coming days, as any legal settlement in Utah including a state entity that goes beyond $1 million needs legal approval. (Gov. Spencer Cox has actually currently accepted the resolution.) The settlement, which will not consist of state appropriations or funds from trainee tuition, solves “exceptional legal claims versus the university,” the university stated in an authorities declaration After the internal evaluation, the school took disciplinary action versus 3 real estate staff members, and 2 others resigned.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the school stated it will produce a memorial on school in Dong’s memory.

Dong is the 2nd University of Utah trainee in 4 years to be eliminated after having actually submitted domestic violence reports to school authorities. Lauren McCluskey, a track professional athlete who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2018, had actually called school authorities more than 20 times to report harassment. In 2020, the McCluskeys protected a multimillion-dollar settlement from the university through Parker & & McConkie, the law office representing the Dong household.

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