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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 12, 1998)
Justice for all
International students need government s protection
LESLEY OWUSU is a
major and a Daily
It happens every day. Somewhere
in this country people are victims of
crime. We hear about very few of
them. Only the major events are ever
reported in our papers.
You have to be a popular figure
or a celebrity before you are given
even a mention in the local news.
If you’re non-American or a
minority, yqjj have even less of a
chance of gaming attention in the
International students at the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
have concerns about their status
and safety in this country.
Many face problems that d
the majority of American
students are unaware
As an interna
tional student, I
relate to other J
students in 9
from across 9
the world. S
Not only 9|
are we in a 9
country, we 9
sands of 9
miles from -^9
our family. 9
Most of us 9
are alone. We I
are forced to 9
adapt to a
totally new 9
students have JS
language bar- 9
often take for
iook ai us ainerenuy - ' "v
because we are foreigners.
International students come
to the United States with many
expectations, but they also have
They see America as the
“promised land,” a place of opportu
nities to make dreams come true.
However, this is not always to be.
I was very disturbed by a recent
crime that involved the death of a
Kenyan student at North West Shoals
Community College in Alabama.
My African history teacher,
Professor Learthen Dorsey, informed
many African students about this
The African Students Association
asked me to inform the rest of the
school about this story. It received
little nationwide attention, and few
people have heard about this tragedy.
I decided it was my duty as an
international and African student to
share this story with everyone on this
The following details are from
Martin White, a lawyer who has
looked into this case.
Catherine Mutheki was a 20
year-old who had her whole life to
live for. She had traveled to America
to complete her degree in pharmacy.
A perfect 4.0-GPA student, she
had never missed a day of school
since she arrived last March, and she
showed no indication that she was
She was described by her friends
as a “quiet and sweet person.”
She was last seen alive on Aug. 9
in her residence hall.
Four days later, her body was
found on a slope of an abandoned
railroad track. She was hanging from
a tree by her own sweater.
Her death was declared a suicide
by the local police in Alabama after
an autopsy. But to me, this sounds
like a very awkward suicide.
Parts of this story make it very
This case is only now being
investigated by the FBI, months after
her death, after questions were raised
by the victim’s family who said then
daughter would never commit such
an act, under any circumstances.
Why is this case so puzzling?
The victim was hanging low
enough when her body was found
that she could have placed her feet
down at any time.
Her neck was also damaged in a
way that did not look like suicide.
People who are interested in this
story have possible theories as to
what might have really happened.
Catherine may have been a vic
tim of a “hate crime.”
Messages on the Internet specu
lated that she was killed as retalia
tion for the bombing of the U.S,
Embassy in Kenya, which occurred
just days before Catherine was found
It also is possible that she com
mitted suicide, as the police said that
she had been feeling depressed.
According to some of Catherine’s
friends, she received anonymous
threats after the bombings in Kenya.
But those very close to the victim
said it would be totally out of charac
ter for Catherine to kill herself, espe
cially since she had come to the
United States purposefully to study.
After speaking to several
Kenyans at the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln, they informed me
that few people in their culture
would hang themselves. They would
be more likely to take poison to com
My conceiji about this event is it
seems the authorities find it easier to
label Catherine^ death as a suicide
rather than a possible murder or
I would hate to imagine that this
event received little attention
because the victim was not
I wonder if this case would have
received more attention if the victim
had been a white American student
The shocking death of Matthew
Shepherd was a different case, but
received headline news for days.
Shepherd was a gay, white
American who was a victim of a
It is very possible that Catherine
was a victim of a “hate crime,” sim
ply because she was a Kenyan. But
the media did not publicize her
It appears that when minorities
are victims of crime, they are lucky
to get mentioned on the back
pages of newspapers.
No grand jury looked at this
H case, because apparently
mere was no evidence oi
Perhaps this case
really is not a huge deal
^because it happened in
the South, where suspi
cious deaths occur all
I It’s “just another
But this matter is
a big deal to me
ed so long
could all be
out to the
be at peace until
:• U1WJ M1UW WUjr UltU
daughter died and who
They cannot bring her back. But
they can try and find justice for their
How much hope do non- [
Americans in this country have in
such a situation? Are we given equal
Are we considered less of a pri
ority than American citizens? I hope
Is the law always on my side, as it
is for American citizens? Can I rely
on and trust the law?
If I were to die unddr suspicious
circumstances, will the law label my
death as “justfanother suicide?”
The authorities are here to pro
tect their citizens and seek justice for
all, so why was Catherine’s case
given little coverage? Many of you
never heard about this story until
No one will ever really know
what happened to Catherine Mutheki
that night. All we know is that her
life was unfortunately cut short.
If this incident was not a suicide,
there are problems concerning the
safety of all students on all college
The mystery of Catherine’s jleath
v- Sodomy fears.
to the New Members of the University Program CoanciR
f' Fonim Committee:
[^ .. ^ _ J| Novelty Committee:
r Gender Issues Chair.
Gender Issues Committee:
Minority Student Programs Chair:
Minority Student Programs Committee:
East Campus Activities Chair:
Public Relations Chain
- Public Relations Committee:
i r y’ --
Geoffiy Hartman, Carissa Leader
Brad Jones, Chris Willet, Michelle Kiefel
Tom St Germain
Matt Holland; Prashant Khandelural,
Mark Bauermeister, Emily Beckmeo,
Alejandro Correal, Jennifer Mesloh
Katie Kettleson . >r r'
Melanie Hoffinan, Sam Saad,
Brenda Doit, Lori Shipley,
... - ... .. ..... j v • ■
. ■ -
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