From Ralph Hipp
Let's talk about Costa Rica and Justin Johnston, and what happened there last week.
Granted, you may agree there's no way Justin should been out and about at 4:00 in the morning outside that hotel in a foreign country. There's also the unwritten rule that we are guests in their country. But the young are free spirited and adventurous, and never give a thought to the possibility that they are placing themselves in a dangerous situation in just a matter of seconds.
Shannon Martin, a KU student on a botany field trip to Costa Rica, was stabbed to death in a theft of her t-shirt outside a bar in Costa Rica in 2001. I was with her crying, grieving mother as I covered the story of a tree being planted in Shannon's memory outside the Student Evangelical Center on the KU campus. Shannon was visiting their country to do some field research for her projects.
Suzie Gilbert also reminded us in her report Friday, that 3 Kansas students and an adult sponsor with them, drowned in a tragic Costa Rican swimming accident five years after Shannon's murder and five years before Justin's shooting death last Thursday morning.
If I were a KU administrator, or a Kansas school district official, I would have some serious reservations about sending any student to any Central America nation. That five students from our state have flown to Costa Rica and returned in coffins may be a tragic, sad coincidence. But there must be ways our students can stay in the Midwest and get some semblance of a learning experience that can keep them out of harm's way in countries we don't know very much about. I would appreciate reading your thoughts on this.. rh