International students react to Celia Barquín Arozamena’s death


Mia Wang/Iowa State Daily

Left: Humza Malik, senior in industrial technology, is from England. Right: Edward Chooi, senior in economics, is from Malaysia. 

Mia Wang

Celia Barquín Arozamena, a senior in civil engineering, was found dead at an Ames golf course Monday morning. She was an Iowa State international student from Puente San Miguel, Spain.

In a recent interview with the Daily, Director of Admissions Katharine Johnson Suski, said when choosing colleges, international students should consider Iowa State because of its safe environment and welcoming community. After Barquín Arozamena’s murder case. Do international students still consider Ames as an ideal place to live as foreigners?

Humza Malik, senior in industrial technology, is from Britain. Malik said he didn’t expect to hear a murder case about an international student in Ames.

“It was just shocking because you don’t expect such things in Ames because Ames is like a small community that lives together,” Malik said. “So I don’t expect something like that.”

Malaysian student, Edward Chooi, senior in economics, said his adviser in Malaysia recommended Iowa State to him.

“My adviser said Iowa is the safest compared to like New York or San Francisco; there’s like gangs and those kinds of stuff,” Chooi said. “But Ames is like pretty peaceful. It’s like a tiny community.”

Surjana Chhetri, from Nepal and a junior in marketing, said for international students, safety is especially prioritized, because most of them live far away from home.

“It’s really important for their parents, especially. They’re always worried about what’s going to happen to their children and all that,” Chhetri said. “So for me, or for international students, I think that’s one of the key factors in choosing where you are going to study.”

Chhetri said she used to stay late outside and walked home, but after several assault cases, she feels Ames is no longer a place that students can feel 100 percent safe about.

“Until last year I used to walk home late at night and I didn’t really worry about people attacking me or like, even though there were sexual assaults happening I like relatively considered it’s safe, but with this incident I feel like it’s really really unsafe for you to walk alone,” Chhetri said.

Iowa State does have multiple ways for students to commute at night, like the late-night buses and SafeRide, but students don’t think they are perfect choices.

“I think Iowa State needs to improve on their bus system. It’s so bad in a way for me because if you miss one bus, you have to wait for another 30 minutes,” Chooi said. “And then they have a SafeRide, I don’t think is safe because you take one hour to pick up a student. Most students would prefer walking home than waiting for an hour, especially in cold months.”

One thing Chhetri said the university could do is night watching, and Iowa State police and Ames police should go on patrol around the city more often.

“Even if the police don’t catch any criminal acts, those with bad attention can feel intimidated and think twice before they attack people,” Chhetri said.

Chooi also pointed out that some international students don’t know what to do or have the courage to voice their opinions, because they are in a foreign country alone.

“Rape, sexual assault and now the murder case. Ames is not as safe as I think,” Chooi said. “International students in Iowa State don’t have a lot of benefits, the school doesn’t provide them. It makes it harder for international students to live here. School expects us to accommodate to the American culture.”

He said many of his Asian female friends had experienced sexual harassment, and that the university should work on an environment to let international student feel safe to talk about their experiences, despite the cultural differences and language barrier.

“They are often catcalled,” Chooi said. “Asian women don’t really speak out a lot, because that’s the culture.”

Malik said another issue international students face is that Iowa State doesn’t have a lot international faculty members. So, students often experience disconnection with the school.

“Sometimes when students voice out their opinion, they don’t get applied,” Malik said. “At the end of the day, we are students, we come and go, the university officials stay. There is no mutual understanding.”

He said the university should put the focus on protecting their international student, instead of just building the image.

“Every semester, school put out new posters or flyers about multicultural improvement, or they are doing a good job on inclusivity,” Malik said. “But we wish they can actually put more effort in it.”

The students also said that the new administration office sparks discrimination and racism toward international students.

“When I first got here, I didn’t hear about this kind of news a lot,” Chooi said. “But in the past few semesters, especially after the new presidential election happened. There is news about racisms, sexism, sexual assaults. They are booming out like crazy.”

“Racism has always existed in America, but after the 2016 presidential election, those kind of people were given more power, because their leader is doing that as well,” Chhetri said.