The parents of the two slain USC graduate students from China have asked the school to pay restitutions after Bryan Barnes pleaded guilty to their murder last Wednesday in court.
The students were shot and killed a mile off campus in April of 2012.
Daniel Deng, legal advisor to the parents of Ming Qu and Ying Wu, noted the families were relieved to learn of Barnes’ conviction.
“[Following the murder] Ming Qu’s mom has been crying all day and was hospitalized several times when suffering from depression,” Deng said. “It was a big relief for them when the killer was caught and convicted.”
Deng expressed, however, that the parents have hit hard times and need the restitutions.
“But at the same time, both of the families are in need financially,” he said. “After the loss of their children, they could not work like before. They could not even afford the airfare to come to Los Angeles.”
Deng said the nature of Chinese culture has worsened the financial situation for the parents.
“In Chinese culture, parents invest in kids hoping their kids would find a job and would care for them later,” he said. “Since there is no social security system in China, children are their social security systems.”
The parents are asking the university to refund $200,000 in tuition for both students as well as a $200,000 reward originally offered by USC and the Los Angeles Police Department last year for providing information during the murder investigation.
USC responded to the parents’ claim last Thursday with the following statement.
“In a gesture of sympathy and kindness, the university had initially offered to compensate the parents for the cost of their children’s education and other expenses,” the press release stated. “The parents declined USC’s offer and instead chose to engage an attorney to sue the university. The courts did not find the university responsible. Our university community continues to mourn the loss of Ying Wu and Ming Qu. The USC Viterbi School of Engineering created an on-campus memorial to the two students and we posthumously awarded their degrees.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the parents had originally filed a civil suit against the university that was later dismissed.
Deng responded to the statement by saying the parents were too devastated at that time to talk about any financial issues and wanted to find out if USC had any legal liability for the incident.
“They wanted to find out the truth to it first,” Deng said. “They retained a civil lawyer to look into whether the school had any liability on this one and to make sure the school has done everything necessary for all the students on and off campus. Last year, they were devastated because of the loss of their child. They did not think any amount of money would replace their children.”
Filing the lawsuit last year was not a matter of winning or losing for the parents, Deng said.
“They wanted to bring security to USC campus and make sure it would not happen to any other family,” he said.
Students have had mixed opinions about the parents’ request, with some citing concerns over the unsafe nature of the university’s surrounding area.
“A shooting happened in my apartment, [The Lorenzo,] last week,” said Chaoyi Li, a sophomore majoring in business administration. “Our parents pay for not only my education, but also safety near campus. USC needs to provide an environment so students can be alive and be safe.”
Rachael Lee, a senior studying communication, however, argued that it wasn’t USC’s responsibility to pay.
“I don’t know if any compensation measures up to the lives that have been taken, and I don’t really understand why USC has to be the one paying restitution,” Lee said.