News’ View: Our lost classmate

A week and two days after Annie Le GRD ’13 was reported missing, a suspect in her murder was arrested and charged. All the University and law enforcement officials involved in the investigation deserve the gratitude and praise of the Yale community for their tireless work.

We can be reassured by the speed with which officials have moved to find Le’s murderer. After the pain of her death, the community could have suffered again: Had the investigation appeared to start poorly, we would have feared more deeply and pointed fingers more widely. We would have been reminded of past tragedy. But as events have developed, we can feel mostly safe around campus, confident in and proud of those who are tasked to protect us.

Nevertheless, we are left with the loss of Annie Le.

None of us at the News knew Le while she lived. We have learned about her only after her death, through the testimony of those who knew her. We have come to know the final hours of her life in painful detail. And through the memories of those whose lives she touched, we have come, beautifully, to learn about her life.

Le was one of us. She was a scholar, a student, a friend and family. We can see ourselves in her.

Like almost all of us, she came from somewhere else. She was first a daughter, and once upon a time the valedictorian of her high school, in El Dorado, Calif., her 1,500-person hometown in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

El Dorado, Le’s family, friends and fiance all mourn as we cannot for their pride and love.

But we can mourn, and we have. With mourning has come reflection, the inevitable aftermath of tragedy. We seek lessons from her murder.

But lessons we find scarce. The senselessness of Le’s death obscures meaning.

How can we — how should we — live our lives differently in light of this crime? How can we be aware without becoming paranoid?

To become more distrustful and fearful of those around us, our friends and acquaintances, would be to compound the tragedy of Le’s death. So far, it seems, we have largely avoided that fate.

We can dwell on evil. We can associate the halls and quads of our campus with danger. Or we can remember Annie Le, we can hold onto her loss and ours, without letting her death detract from our shared lives, instead using it as a reminder that each of us contributes to this community in a way that no other can.

After indescribable tragedy we have seen the best of our community — the best in us. We have seen leaders and officials live up to their titles; we have seen Yalies of all ages and positions live up to the highest callings of friendship and community.

What has the last week shown us about Yale? Certainly not that it is unsafe, unkind or uncaring. Instead we have seen that this place is deeply good. We are proud and grateful to call Yale home for as long as we are fortunate enough to be here.

And we are even more honored to call Annie Le a classmate. We will remember she who wrote, below a yearbook picture now buried in the past: “I shall assert that until I assume the place in society which mere whim assigns me, humanity must advance but feebly.”


  • YDNReader

    Yale should have a surveillance system for these classroom and lab buildings, similar to that of a casino, where all cameras are constantly being monitored, and if anything suspicious is seen, police can be dispatched to that area quickly. But for this to work, every area of every building would need to be covered by cameras. Yes, it sounds a little extreme, but in today’s world it’s better to be more safe. I could tell by reading about her, that Annie was a lovely, wonderful, and sweet girl. We should do whatever possible to prevent things like this from happening, instead of learning how to prevent it after it’s too late.

  • Madas

    @ YDNReader:

    Sir, I have a quote for you: “He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security” – Benjamin Franklin.

    Some of us reject that nation that, because of the depravaities of a few, we must surrender our privacy, our freedom, and our rights. We refuse to cower in fear inside of prisons we build for ourselves. If the only way to ensure our safety is to build walls and hire guards, then we have a fundamental societal problem that must, sooner or later, be confronted rather than held at arms length with the barrell of a gun.

  • Mark

    The building in which Annie Le was murdered had the more surveilance cameras than any other building on campus so I don’t think adding more cameras would prevent this type of crime in the future since there are always places in the building (like the restrooms) where you could not have cameras.

    Maybe adding (more) emergency “panic buttons” around the campus would help but inside secure campus buildings is the one place students probably would have assumed they are relatively safe.

    Maybe a better approach is to do thorough background checks on all new members of the Yale community (i.e. Yale employees). This still may not have prevented Annie Le’s murder as it seems the lead suspect did not have a criminal past.

  • AlexS

    I contributed tonight to the “I have a dream” foundation. I hope to do so annually in her memory.

    Strange it is how a total stranger can be so moved by such tragedy.

    I am not much of a writer, but I write from time to time for my own exercise. I hope that none take offense

    A star was born in the heavens one night
    although small she brightly shone
    to chase away though endless days
    the night that turns to dawn

    An angel born before her time
    who had won so many hearts
    with mischievous eyes that did not belie
    the heart that lies within

    A million strangers wept away
    with a million tears to come
    like endless rivers through desert seas
    for one they hadn’t known

    A million strangers learned her dream
    “I have a dream,” said she
    and my dream will never perish
    if you remember me