Kindness can overshadow apathy and hate

Yingying Zhang disappeared in June. The Editorial Board believes it is up to students to be kind and resilient to hatred.

Photo Courtesy of UIPD.

Yingying Zhang disappeared in June. The Editorial Board believes it is up to students to be kind and resilient to hatred.

This summer, as many students were off campus and enjoying vacation, a major tragedy occurred. Every student, faculty and community member should be aware that Yingying Zhang, a 26-year-old visiting scholar from China, was kidnapped in broad daylight.

Depending on where you were this summer, this may be something that only crossed your mind or newsfeed a few times. However, for the people who are involved, every passing day deepens the pain that will continue even after Yingying is found.

Brendt Christensen, 28, a former University doctoral candidate, was arrested and is now awaiting trial for the crime. Through community-wide vigils and Facebook groups spanning country borders, people showed their investment in finding Yingying, one of our own. Community members and students alike came together in the grieving, and the University has made efforts to help the Zhang family in any way it could.

While this tragedy dominated the campus culture over the summer, there is a very real possibility that this story could be forgotten among the frenzy of Welcome Week, Greek rush and the start of the school year.

For students returning to campus for the first time since May, the disappearance might not have been much more than a headline. However, Zhang’s case is still active, and it’s something to be aware of as you acclimate into this fall semester.

Christensen’s trial is tentatively set for Sept. 12, and the search for Yingying continues.

There are ways to show support for her and her family that persist with each passing day. There is a GoFundMe account set up for the Zhang family, so they can afford to pay for living expenses, legal fees and travel. The funds collected also are planned to go toward the fee of a private investigator who will help them continue the search for Yingying. The yellow ribbon campaign, set up by the University, will continue to raise awareness for the family and this tragedy as well.

Despite the shadow cast by this tragedy over Champaign-Urbana, individuals stepped up and disproved the notion that apathy or hate could shut out kindness. People showed their support by aiding the Zhang family with their living expenses through donations. The Zhang family cannot administer their own GoFundMe account because China is not in the list of countries that are approved by the site.

This campus may be plagued with heartbreak and disbelief scattered from this occurrence, but it is the duty of the student body to not enable fear that take away from everything else the University has to offer. We need to be smart and vigilant, looking out for our fellow students when we can, but we cannot move forward in fear.

It is up to us to show the rest of the world who is following this case that this University and its students are resilient.