Yale is blanketed in white, glistening snow, but our campus is in darkness.
We are mourning the loss of Luchang Wang ’17, a mathematics major in Silliman College who took her life yesterday. For those who knew and loved her, the loss cannot be expressed. We, too, struggle to find words that fully capture the death of our classmate.
Wang was an altruist in every sense of the word. As a member of Yale Effective Altruists, she took a broad perspective, considering the problem of global poverty. But she also spent time doing good deeds for those near her, decorating her suitemates’ doorknobs with toys and retrieving flowers for them from East Rock.
She was articulate and open-minded. She cared deeply about racial justice, traveling to New York to join protests condemning the no-indictment after the shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson.
“She saw rich worlds of thought and experience inside every person who crossed her path,” one friend said.
This campus is a smaller place without her.
Tuesday night, Silliman Master Judith Krauss opened her home to the community grappling with the shocking news. Wang’s suitemates and friends — spanning Silliman, the Party of the Left, the Asian American Cultural Center and the Record — joined University President Peter Salovey, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, University Chaplain Sharon Kugler and the masters and deans of several residential colleges to grieve. They wiped their eyes. In murmurs, some asked how this had happened. All struggled to understand what had gone wrong. Silence prevailed.
There is no pattern to tragedy that cuts this deep. Yet we cannot help but remark on the sequence of troubling news this campus has faced over the past week: from reports of sexual assault to an armed encounter between a Yale Police officer and a student just trying to leave the library on a Saturday evening.
And then, just shy of 6 p.m. on Tuesday, an email in our inboxes from Holloway: “Very sad news.” Indeed, shocking news that reminds us that ivied gates, spires and stained glass do not protect us from pain. Yale is not a place that lends itself to recognitions of vulnerability. We’re fine, we insist, as we balance coursework, extracurriculars, student jobs and social pressures — all without hardship and even without effort.
Yet we know this is not the case. We know there are people here who struggle, sometimes for days and weeks, and sometimes without relief.
If you are struggling, know that you are not alone. As a member of this community, indeed as a fellow human being, you will find empathy. Beyond the phone lines and professional resources — as vital as they are — this is a moment to remember what we owe one another.
When a student takes her life, there are surely questions about mental health and the pressures of life at Yale. These questions are for tomorrow. Today is about Luchang. It’s about finding time in the hustle and bustle to consider what truly matters.
Be of solace and comfort to another person.