Tech Flooded With Xenophobia After Decapitation

VT president: School embraces its diversity

ROANOKE, Va. -- In an open letter to the campus, Virginia Tech's president said that he is troubled by disparaging comments the school has received about the ethnicity of a man charged with killing a fellow student last month.

In the letter, President Charles Steger told students, parents, faculty and staff that the school values its diversity.

"Virginia Tech is an open and accepting community including many races, ethnicities and cultures from around the world," Steger wrote.

The letter responds to comments made following the decapitation of Xin Yang, 22, in a coffee shop on Jan. 21. There is no evidence that the killing had anything to do with her ethnicity, Steger said. Haiyang Zhu, also a student at Virginia Tech, is charged with Yang's murder. Both Zhu and Yang are from China.

University spokesman Larry Hinckler told the Associated Press that in the days and weeks following the murder, the school received several dozen letters, e-mails and phone calls attacking foreigners. Hinckler called the comments "xenophobic barbs."

The January murder happened just months before the second anniversary of the mass killing on the Virginia Tech campus in which Korean-born Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 students and faculty before committing suicide. Those were the first homicides ever committed on the school's campus.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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