May was a tumultuous month for Canadian higher education. The ongoing student protests in Quebec have been gripping to follow and have presented new opportunities for student-government negotiations. But the recent murder of Jin Lun may have deeper ramifications – on an international scale. As an international student, his murder has led to the Chinese embassy warning their citizens to take extra cautions in traveling to Canada. Reponses from local institutions are countering the embassy’s warning saying Canada is a safe and welcoming place. But this is the second Chinese students this year to be killed and those statements ring a little hollow.
I am reminded of the Canadian tourists who have been killed recently in travels to Mexico. There may be only a handful in the overall tourist population – but it is not an easy thing to convince the rest of us that Mexico is safe for Canadians.
The bigger questions coming out of China’s cautionary statements need to be addressed – is there something that is making Chinese international students vulnerable? Perhaps a degree of isolation? Are these crimes racially motivated?
Jane Ngobia’s study – on the interaction of international and domestic students at UofT’s campuses – suggests that domestic students benefit and learn from their interactions with international students. However, the category of international students
is perceived as broad and often includes other Canadian minority students who
add diversity to campus. With growing numbers of Canadian-Chinese students as well as international – it is not just the international students that stand out. If indeed the recent crimes are racially-motivated, then both visibleminority populations are at risk. A
warning from the Chinese embassy is not enough – Ngobia calls for concerted policies to build relationship and provide continued supports for all our “diverse” students.