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Institute Reacts to Raustein Murder

By Brian Rosenberg
Editor in Chief

Approximately 350 people from Cambridge and MIT gathered to mourn the death of Yngve K. Raustein '94 in a candlelight vigil on Kresge Oval last night.

Raustein was fatally stabbed while walking with a friend on Memorial Drive last Friday night. Three Cambridge youths have been charged in connection with the incident.

The vigil, organized by Baker House residents Kelly M. Sullivan '93 and Patricia L. Birgeneau '93, was intended to "express our sadness and show Yngve's family that we all grieve with them," Birgeneau said.

Several representatives from the city and the Institute participated in the vigil. MIT President Charles M. Vest, Associate Dean for Student Assistance Services Robert M. Randolph, Sullivan, and Naved A. Khan '94, a close friend of Raustein, spoke for MIT. A staff member from the office of Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves read a letter from the mayor, who could not attend the vigil. Members of the city council and school committee, including Superintendent MaryLou McGrath, also attended the vigil.

Volunteers from Baker House began distributing candles shortly after 7 p.m., instructing recipients to not light them immediately. Randolph began the vigil with a short reaffirmation of its purpose, and then asked everyone to light their candles. "Share and pass your light until the entire oval is lit up," he said. "With these specks of light, we will drive out fear and anger."

Randolph then introduced Khan, who transferred to MIT with Raustein and knew him well. Khan invited the crowd to express their feelings on several pieces of paper that would be circulated. The papers will be given to Raustein's parents when they arrive for a memorial service later this month, he said.

A tribute to Raustein

Sullivan called the vigil "a tribute to Yngve Raustein, to the MIT community, and to each other." She said she hoped "Yngve's friends and loved ones can take solace in knowing that he was loved, that we cared, and that he will be missed."

Vest spoke next, telling the crowd, "The loss of a life diminishes us all, especially when that life is young and full of promise." Vest said Raustein would be missed "with a particular intensity because he was a friend, a colleague, a neighbor, and a guest in our country."

Vest added that he had spoken with Raustein's parents and said they appreciated the support shown by the community.

"Much more must be done to show that each life is valuable," Mayor Reeves said in the letter read by his staff member. "Each person must reach into their heart to see how they can work to remove violence from around them."

Randolph concluded by asking how the community will be different as a result of Raustein's death.

"Some people say we need to be more careful about where we go and when, but such advice would not have averted this tragedy," he said. "Others say we cannot trust each other, but this advice would not have averted this tragedy. ... We must realize that part of life is accepting victories and defeats, and we must learn to help one another through these difficulties."

Randolph urged the crowd to take their candles as they traveled to their destinations.

"Let these lights go out to show that we won't be overwhelmed by violence, or overcome by pain," he said. "Be agents of healing wherever you go tonight."

The crowd dispersed slowly as attendees tried to shield their candles from the wind. Many did not leave immediately, choosing instead to stay and express their sympathy on one of the sheets of paper.

Many people would not agree to be interviewed about the vigil, but those who did were satisfied with it. "I think it was very appropriate, and it let the community know how much we cared for him," said Nitish Swarup '93.

"It's really great that people who didn't know him got together for this -- it's really special to share this," said Steven P. Wiggins '93.

The vigil "captured most of our feelings, and I hope [Raustein's] family senses that," added William L. Porter PhD '69, architecture professor and housemaster of Burton-Conner House.