Stephanie Elam and Edwin Calderon
The slayings of two University of Southern California international students near campus has garnered mix reactions from students – some of whom say they know which areas to avoid, and some who think the school’s bad safety reputation is exaggerated. NBC4's Stephanie Elam reports from USC.
The Wednesday morning slayings of two USC graduate students was an unavoidable topic of conversation on campus.
"We have noticed the security being better, but just hearing about this definitely makes you kind of question it," Janice Kim, USC graduate student. "It obviously makes you worry."
Many students said they usually feel safe because the school's Department of Public Safety has a strong presence.
"I was a little worried when I heard about it, but I feel like with (the Department of Public Safety) and all the other protection we have, it's not something that I need to be immediately concerned about," said USC senior Nellie Querns.
Still, others were feeling a bit defensive.
"It has a bad reputation," said sophomore Alex Reinnoldt. "A lot of people think we're in the ghetto. But when I came here as a freshman, I felt like it was over dramatized."
But junior Lexie Lowell said that reputation is not entirely unfounded.
"More towards Vermont and Exposition," Lowell said. "That way, I would be personally less willing to go there alone."
The fact that the victims were both from China made international students especially concerned.
"They all have cars," said junior Joanne Chong. "And the majority of them that I know do live off campus."
But freshman Gabriel Leung, from Hong Kong, doesn't see a chilling effect on international enrollment.
"I've never personally felt unsafe around here," Leung said. "I think for the majority of the international students, they come to this school for the resources and for what the school can offer and these things don't happen that frequently and when they do there's nothing they can do about it."
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, USC officials said, in part, "the University continues to promote safety in the neighborhoods around campus, including safety task forces and a collaboration between (The Department of Public Safety) and the area's neighborhood councils."
For the students, it comes down to basics.
"I just think people should be more careful of how they go out at night," said sophomore Belinda Bu.