At Yale, we come together in our dining halls, around large tables and surrounded by students, teachers and staff. We notice when one of our friends is missing; and now, in just the last week, we have lost forever three of our own.
First, on Friday, we learned of the deaths of two Yale Dining workers, Donna Colon, of Timothy Dwight College, and George “Butch” Marro, of Saybrook College.
Like all Yale Dining workers, Donna and Butch occupied a special place at Yale. Each day, we handed them our identification cards and they handed them back to us with a smile. They gave us our food and they kept track of us. When we’d had a bad weekend, they knew it. When they’d had a good weekend, they told us.
Donna and Butch were true characters on campus. They both worked the breakfast shift and made our days a little easier. Already, at morning meals this weekend, we were grieving for them.
And then, on Sunday, Andre Narcisse ’12 was found dead in his Branford College suite. As word of this tragic loss spread, our grief compounded and we searched for answers, for truth, for comfort. But they did not come.
Even those of us who did not know Andre personally were devastated by the news that a fellow student had passed, seemingly without warning. We were reminded that for all of us, regardless of age, life can disappear in an instant.
Sadly, this was not the first time we have been taught such a lesson this fall. After all, there has been too much tragedy at Yale this semester. The murder of Annie Le GRD ’13, the news that a disgruntled former employee had brought a gun to campus, and now these three latest deaths in our community have reminded us that our University is not immune from the horrors of the world.
What is different at Yale is the way in which we respond.
The beauty of this campus, of any academic community, is that we are not alone here. Yale is a big place, with about 25,000 students and teachers and workers, but we are all in some ways connected by our shared desire to learn and improve the world. When masters opened their houses last night to students, when friends comforted each other in courtyards, we saw this community at its best.
Let us now remain together and continue to help each other in this hour of need. Let us remember those in our community most directly affected by these deaths and let us help to comfort them. Let us never forget that Yale is about more than just classes and tests and papers. It is about people and friendships and the community we build together.
And so let us all take a moment today, as we swipe into breakfast, as we walk through Branford, as we head to class, to remember those we have lost and those who remain.