u. penn student attacked

Some disturbing news out of Philadelphia where a University of Pennsylvania student says she was the victim of what might have been a racially motived attack: Attack prompts questions.

Two weeks ago, Christina Zhang was attacked by two black teenage girls who sprayed a chemical on her face with an aerosol can. It happened in broad daylight, on a typically crowded street, with no warning.

Her face suffered an intense burning sensation and swelling, but fortunately, it went away after a couple days. She's okay, but she's also dissastisfied with the way the Philadelphia Police, the School of Nursing and the University handled the incident:
Zhang said while at HUP, personnel from Victim Services and Penn Police, sent by the Nursing School and the Division of Public Safety, respectively, took her statement.

She expressed beliefs that she may have been the victim of a race-related attack.

"My professor informed me that I may have been targeted because I was Asian," she said, referring to the attack on 26 Asian students by several black students at South Philadelphia High School in December. The clinic Zhang worked at was a block away from William Penn High School, which has a predominantly black population.

"We have no reason to believe that Christina's attack and the South Philly High incident are connected," said Divison of Public Safety Director of Special Services Patricia Brennan, who visited Zhang in the emergency room. "We're geographically removed from these locations."

Nursing Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Christina Clark said all clinical locations are reviewed for safety by Penn Police before students are assigned to them, and Brennan pointed out the clinic where Zhang worked was "well-populated"

In response to Zhang's having to travel relatively long distances alone, Clark said students have access to PhillyCarShare "when appropriate."

"The Philadelphia Police arrived at the clinic half an hour after I left for HUP - it's unacceptable that they had such a slow response time," said Zhang, who added that the police have not contacted her since the incident.

She was also "disappointed" that the Nursing School and the University "had not done more to address the issue."

"No alert was sent out to the student body regarding this attack," Zhang said. "I was also informed about the racial tension after the attack had already occurred."

"I was unknowingly putting myself in danger all this time," she added.
While I think it's a terrible idea to put people on high alert about potential Black/Asian tensions running rampant on the streets of Philadelphia, it's also irresponsible to completely dismiss the notion that the attacks are related. Whatever the case, you'd hope that the authorities would take something like this more seriously.

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