Letter: Yale’s unprecedented grief

It is not possible to offer to Yale words of comfort or wisdom at this moment in her long history.

Three students have died horrible deaths over the last two years: a promising graduate student murdered on campus the weekend before her wedding; a young undergraduate leaping to his death off the Empire State Building; and now a young woman, weeks before her graduation, killed in a tragic accident in the Chemistry Lab. A fourth student of great athletic promise and tremendous popularity has had her life cut short by nature’s blind indifference.

Yale, perhaps more than any other college in the country, is the preeminent symbol of promise and prestige which America has produced in its centuries-old evolution from Colony to Beacon of Egalitarianism in the world: her classrooms have molded four future presidents of the United States.

Every mother and father sending a student to New Haven must sense the promise of this legacy and tingle with hope and excitement at the future which is unfolding for the fruit of their parenting.

Death is so antithetical to youth itself and to all that Yale represents: there seems no lesson to be drawn from the accumulation of such sorrow in so short a time in the midst of fields where the glories of fulfillment and development are nurtured with such care and devotion.

Paul Keane

April 14

The writer is a 1980 graduate of the Divinity School.


  • 2010alum

    And let us not forget Andre Narcisse as well…

  • InterestedInBiology

    Are Andre Narcisse and Daniel Siegel’s lives worth less than the other four students’? Does a death have to be violent, or widely publicized, to be “horrible” and tragic? This letter is not just nonsensical, it’s somewhat offensive.

  • sonofmory

    this letter is just as nonsensical as the Anti-Yale’s other postings…

  • yaliealum

    There are many more Yalies who have died while students at the University over the last few years. I feel for the families and friends of these four students; no one should leave the earth so young and by such horrible means. But for those of us who’ve lost friends over the last few years–to cancer, to road accidents, to unknown causes–those deaths were also devastating. I don’t think it’s intentional but there seems to have been a privileging of certain deaths over others, by the University and media.

  • The Anti-Yale

    No offense was intended to anyone, certainly not by singling out certain deaths as more important than others.

    I believe I said “Death seems antithetical to youth” and I certainly include as “youth” all of those mentioned in these posts.

    I live 200 miles away. I am reacting to my impression of the University from that vantage point..

    Perhaps vicariously I was recalling a similar sudden aggregation of student deaths on a university campus I attended 40 years ago and was projecting my own long lingering feelings on to Yale’s current sadness..

    Both aggregations of youths lost, separated by four decades, seemed equally inconsolable losses to me, theology or no theology.

    It is not that one life is less important than seven lives or vice versa, but that Yale, like my campus four decades ago, seemed reeling from the shock of so many losses so puiblicly recorded in the media,a recording which deepens that very shock.

    I am trying, even four decades later, to make sense of my world, as are perhaps all of you trying to make sense of your worlds.

    I beg pardon for my inadvertent insensitivity.

    Paul Keane


  • roflairplane

    Very nice letter, Mr. Keane.

  • InterestedInBiology

    Maybe you should try to make sense of your world in private, instead of subjecting us all to it, too.

  • The Anti-Yale

    The YDN editorial board decides what is worth publishing, not I.

  • Jaymin

    I think it was worth publishing. It was a very nice letter.