As a campus, we’ve dealt with plenty of challenges in the past few years but few have hit us as hard as the events of Monday night.
People always mention how a tragedy can bring a community together. It makes a group of people forget their petty differences and remember what makes life important. But at CWRU, people have always been close. It’s always been easy to feel connected living all together on a few square blocks and sharing so many experiences. Everyone knows how quickly the optimism of a new semester becomes dread for midterms. We’re all familiar with the excitement of going out with friends, new and old, to soak the most out of the few weeks of sunny weather before the rain and snow. We all feel the expectation. For the end of our time here. For life.
Many new students and visitors cite this sense of community as one of the factors which contributed to their decision to attend our university over others. But as the news broke about Lucas, William, Abraham and John, and as the groups of students huddled together on the lawn on Zeta Beta Tau on Tuesday, it became clear that this community doesn’t break apart once you leave a classroom, the gym or your residence hall floor. It doesn’t even stop at the level of students or administrators. It became clear that we need each other.
Grief can shut you down. Things lose color and depth. Laughter seems forced and thinking about anything else becomes impossible. Even for those of us who didn’t know Lucas, William, Abraham or John, you can feel the loss and the emptiness that closes in. You feel your throat close as you pass Greek houses or student athletes. In reality, the feelings grief brings on are so completely individual it is difficult to imagine being a part of anything. But the only way for us to grow stronger after the events of this past week is to come together.
Our professors are taking time at the beginning of lectures to share in our loss and let us know they’re here for us. Administrators have made efforts to make extra services available for students who want help coping. Students are reaching out to each other. As the brothers of ZBT or wrestling teammates move through their day, sporting black ribbons of remembrance, we all feel their loss. The sense of community is what brought so many of us here to CWRU and we’ll need it now more than ever as we mourn this terrible loss.
We here at The Observer are also trying to make peace with what’s happened. We’re struggling. We’re trying to capture what everyone is feeling in words or photos, but we know it’s not possible for us to define or quantify these emotions with prose or print. We’re all still reeling. When it came time to put this issue together, many of us felt there was little else to discuss. We just want to find a way to keep moving forward. We’ll do our best to facilitate conversation and reflection, but it seems that the most important thing for all of us now is just to reach out. We need to find someone or something that helps us heal or find time to be extra attentive to what others need.
Lucas, William, Abraham and John were our classmates, our teammates, our brothers. When their journeys were cut short, we also realized how essential it is for us to all make the most of our journeys. To be daring and courageous and kind. To live in a way that represents something that’s worth experiencing. Whether you work to connect with those around you, or just try to make positive changes in your own life, the only way to honor the lives of these men who left our community too early is to remember them and the impact they made in a way that is true to their memory. The memory of men who aspired to attend a top-rated university, men who reached out to organizations that represent our school in varied and wonderful ways. The memory of men who dared to take flight.