Letters: A more than adequate response to tragedy

A more than adequate response to tragedy

Re: “Le family lawyers start own investigation” (Sept. 9): One year ago, tragedy and trauma struck this campus in the most unexpected form. Most of us followed the headlines helplessly, hoping for the best or, at least, hoping it wasn’t the worst. But not everyone sat around feeling and acting helpless. Yale’s top administrators bent over backwards to do anything and everything they could for the family of Annie Le GRD ’13. As an unofficial liaison between Annie’s family and the University during that time, I witnessed much of this firsthand.

After learning her family was being hounded by the media in local hotels, Pierson and Davenport masters housed them in their guest suites — Yale’s suggestion, not the family’s request. Her family ate meals in Pierson every day, and the Asian American Cultural Center reached out to provide them cultural comforts as well. University Secretary Linda Lorimer and Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith provided security for them at all times and escorts around New Haven whenever needed. Chaplain Sharon Kugler and Father Bob Beloin were with the family daily providing spiritual support. Yale provided (sometimes multiple) daily case updates to the family, in conjunction with the New Haven Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

On Thursday, I learned that Annie’s biological mother, Vivian Le, had hired attorney Brian King to possibly sue Yale. While the administration’s support of Annie’s family is obviously not relevant to potential legal action, my experience in this disaster showed me that Yale displayed the same dedication and commitment to finding Annie as it did to caring for her family.

It is also important to note that, despite King’s general statements of what the Le family feels, he was not hired by the rest of Annie’s family. I know firsthand that the guardians who raised her, Tuyet Bui and Robert Nguyen, and her uncle, James Bui, have no interest in filing any lawsuit, now or in the future, against any individual or institution in relation to Annie’s death. From their perspectives, no amount of justice can bring Annie back, and they would just rather let Annie rest in peace.

What happened to Annie was tragic and terrible, but I am proud of how Yale responded to this crisis and has continued to reach out to Annie’s family. I still keep in contact with them and know that Annie’s uncles and aunts are extremely grateful to Yale for all the University did during their time of distress.

Xuan Nguyen

Cincinnati, Ohio

Sept. 9

The writer is a 2010 graduate of Pierson College.


  • theantiyale

    Yale can be proud of its response described above. Especially since this kind of traumatic event throws everyone into a state of semi-shock.
    As to not searching the building for a week as mentioned in a previous article. What is the offfcial response to that question, if any?

  • FailBoat

    Although I don’t think Yale bears responsibility for the tragic death of Annie Le, I think it is unseemly, at the least, for Ms. Nguyen to use Ms. Le’s guardians’ decision not to sue as a club against her grieving mother. It is in especially poor taste for Ms. Nguyen to go to great lengths to draw a distinction between her biological mother and the individuals who raised her. If it is unimportant, as Ms. Nguyen suggests with a wink, why bring it up at all?

  • kattrby

    Failboat is so utterly wrong that I fear he/she has some unmentioned link with the law suit.

    Ms Nguyen did not use any club against Ms Le’s mother – she simply pointed out that those who had actually raised Annie Le had no intention of trying to profit from her death. I think Ms Nguyen has a very clear idea of what consitutes “especially poor taste”.

  • FailBoat

    The commenter above uses the phrase “actually raised” to contrast Annie’s aunt and uncle with her mother, who presumably did not “actually raise” Annie. This is the same meaning I gleaned from Ms. Nguyen’s original comments as well. It is, in fact, a tawdry way to discredit Vivian Le’s claims – a subtle contest of her moral standing as an interested party in the death of her own daughter.

    The commenter above, of course, explicitly suggests that Vivian Le’s lawsuit is an attempt to profit from her daughter’s death. At least Ms. Nguyen had the decency to keep this point veiled behind her neutral words of praise for the rest of Annie’s family.

  • kattrby

    Failboat, you sound more and more like a hireling. A junior lawyer of some kind – your vocabulary in both your messages tends to give the game away. Please declare yourself.

    And before you even begin you ask, I am not remotely a hireling of any kind.

  • FailBoat

    I am an undergraduate and probably the second or third most frequent commenter on the YDN website (shout out to PK and Hieronymus).

    I have no plans to go to law school, since I’m majoring in something useful already.

    Who are you, kattrby?

  • kattrby

    Fair question.

    In this context, I am someone who has known of the progress of events, and the behaviour of the principals, since shortly after Annie Le disappeared. People whom I have known and trusted for more than forty years have shared their decades of past knowledge of the family as a whole.

    On that basis, I joined Ms Nguyen in applauding the reticence of the people who raised Annie Le.

    Please note that you have written some pretty emotive words
    “a club against her grieving mother”
    “especially poor taste”

    Right words, wrong target? Please at least consider, reflect upon, that possibility.

    If you are not in fact a hireling then I owe you an apology, and am perfectly happy to offer one. Even to have suggested that you might be a qualified lawyer was especially insulting.

  • FailBoat

    I have no problem with praising the reactions of Annie Le’s aunt and uncle. I have a problem with Ms. Nguyen using her praise as a veil through which to attack Vivian Le.

    I have no basis upon which to judge Vivian Le – it is possible that she is as awful as Ms. Nguyen’s letter insinuates. But insinuation and innuendo hidden behind praise is cowardly. If one wishes to attack Ms. Le for exploiting her daughter’s death, one must at least show the courage to do so directly.

    That is my objection, as I have made clear from the start.

  • kattrby

    Not everything has to be adversarial, nor confrontational.

    I am much more impressed with you now than I was, because I had thought you might be a paid stooge – there are such people. If I am wrong, I am very happy to be wrong.

    My clear view is that Ms Nguyen was not being sneaky – what you may think of as ‘insinuation and innuendo’ is simply a reluctance to declare war, even against someone who is ignoble.

    I do not think that is ‘cowardly’ – in fact I think it is graceful. As you said, you have no basis on which to judge Vivian Le, but in my own view, digested and considered for a long time, she is awful.

    It is not a matter of ‘courage’, if courage is defined as litigation, conflict, empty bravado.

    You obviously have an enquiring mind. Take a long look at the NYC law firm behind Vivian Le’s suit. If you think I am using insinuation and innuendo, so be it. But take a look, make up your own mind.

  • theantiyale

    For forty years I have refrained from commenting on the actions and motives of the families of the Kent State murdered and wounded with whom I worked for a number of years after the May 4, 1970 shootings.. Grief is private. Not my business. Grief is entitled to total “hands off” from commentators and politicoes.

    How dare anyone invade the Le family’s motives and actions regardless of their public impact.

    Paul Keane

    [link text][1]

    [1]: http://theantiyale.blogspot.com “The Anti-Yale”

  • FailBoat

    Hear hear, Mr. Keane.

  • helenli

    Fact: Yale practised ribald nepotishm and hired the entire Clark family to work in a closly-confined space. The sister of Clark knew about his violent past and said nothing.

    Fact: The building was not secured for four days after Annie went missing. CCTV footages clearly indicated that Annie never left the building.

    Fact: Clark was bullying, erractic and iracible to the research students. Yet his family and the authorities never took any disciplinary procedure against him. It was admitted that proper avenues of complaints and censor was never in place before the murder.

    Fact: Yale added insult to injury by issuing a public statement welcoming the Clark family back to work at Yale only a month after the horrific slaying of a young girl when the suspect was their ownfamily member. Do Yale actually know for sure that the Clark family were “mere bystanders?”

    Fact: Shortly after Annie’s body was found, President Leven issed a statement saying that “it could have happened in any university, any campus.” No buddy, if you have proper supervision and hiring of qualified people to work at 10 Amistad, Annie might still be alive. What a stupid and callous remark, all intended to save his own skin.
    It does not matter that tea and sympathy were extended to Annie’s family after her murder. It was what happened before and the cold-blooded “welcome home buddies” statement that hurt.

    What Annie’s uncle and aunt choose to do it up to them. Annie’s mother has every right to seek justice for her daughter. What happened to freedom of speech and action in the “land of the brave and the home of the free?” I had advocated for suing Yale back in September last year in the Yale Daily News. I am 100% behiind Vivian Le to bring Yale to account for their negligence and incompetence.

    Shame on the author of this article.

  • katie

    I too say shame on the author of this article AND on kattrby (which might as well be Ms. Nguyen’s secret username)

  • helenli

    Thank you Katie for your support. I live on the other side of the pond in southeast England and a total stanger to the Le family.Yet, I was so incensed by the way a supposed world-class institution like Yale handed the tragic death of this brilliant and good young scholar that I had written extensively to YDN and other papers to voice my concerns. I don’t know who this kattrby person is and she can say what she likes; but let us examine her words. She said that Annie’s mother is “ignoble, awful” and her seeking justice for her own daughter “empty bravado.” Don’t you just love such a charmer? She claims to know the family’s history. I put it to her that Annie’s family history is none of our business. How dare she judge a grieving mother, what kind of person is this kattrby character!!! As for the nature of the law firm handling the case for Mrs. Vivian Le, you better not go near any law firm you have such squeamishness about legal institutions then. Have you even read Dickenes? Law firms like to take on worthy cases fighting for little people to salve their conscience these days and I am glad that someone has stepped fowrad to help Annie’s mother. *

  • WriteResponsibly

    To zimbderek1:

    I believe you are not one of those people who seek a right to a wrong either. For if you were, you would not have publicly disparage a woman whom you do not even have a privilege of knowing. Your derogatory and insulting comments offer absolutely no support for your conclusion about Ms. Le’s character. And the tone of your posting does not show respect for Annie either. What right do you have to judge the grieving mother’s intentions and actions? What do you know about her feelings? It is between Ms. Le and Yale only. If the University has not done anything wrong, there is no need to be apprehensive of a potential lawsuit.

  • yellowmj

    Yes, I am here to defend miss Nguyen. I am Annie’s youngest uncle and one of the many uncles and my sister (not Annie’s mother) who helped raised Annie. I try not to play favorites when it comes to my relationship with my many nieces and nephews, but Annie and Chris were special. They relied on the love of their grandmother, uncles and aunts to help shape their humanity. I firmly believe that the emotional ties between a child and those who are responsible for raising him/her are much stronger than the maternal ties. Til this day, I still cry for my niece every time our family get together and she is not present and every time I look at my own daughter and see Annie’s resemblance.

    When Annie was reported missing my sister, her husband, my brother, his wife, their children, and myself all were at Yale awaiting the news that we all dreaded. Miss Nguyen and numerous Yale students and officials extended their hands out to us. They were at our beckon call, sometimes over the top. We did not expect them to do so, they just did because they cared. I witness their love as we all congregated and cried after the dreaded news was delivered to us. They felt the same sense of loss as my family and I did as I reminisce about how Annie was so proud at the age of 9 she was able beat me at Scrabble with the word “czar”.

    Now we can go on and on about who’s responsible for Annie’s death and how it could have been prevented, but in the end will it bring Annie back to me and my family. In my view, the only justice that would suffice would be if Annie miraculously comes back to life. No amount of money or justice will fill the void I have in my life without Annie.

    disclosure: I myself encouraged miss Nguyen to write this letter. I wanted to clear up any misunderstanding that my family and I (the Bui’s and Nguyen’s) had anything to do with any law suit and also to reiterate my appreciation of miss Nguyen and Yale officials for their comfort and love in my family’s time of need.