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Letter from the Chancellor

We are all deeply saddened by the passing of Brian G. Anderson, a member of our community, and the third death of a student on campus during this academic year. Any one of these events stuns us; to have three in a year is incomprehensible.

I know that many of you will struggle to make sense of this, and I want to take this opportunity to remind all of us — students, faculty, staff — that communities support one another during challenges like this. Until the official investigation by the appropriate state and local authorities is complete, we will not fully know what led to this tragedy, but I encourage everyone to refrain from speculation. What we do know at this stage is that there is no strong indication that Brian’s death was the result of suicide, and the MIT Police believe that the circumstances of the death do not signal any imminent danger to the MIT community.

What I hope we will all do is take the time to strengthen the bonds of community. Reach out to your friends, your peers in class or student group, or your neighbors in a dormitory or living group. If people you know seem upset or distracted or stressed, please reach out: offer to talk, offer to connect them with staff who can help them deal with this trauma, offer to share your own support.

Of course, our thoughts at this time go out to Brian’s family, to his colleagues on the wrestling team, to his peers from the formerly active Beta Theta Pi fraternity and from Next House, and to his friends from class, and from Course 15. We all feel a deep sense of loss when a promising young life ends. This sense of loss can affect us in different ways, and I personally hope that each of you takes a bit of time away from your academic routine to reflect on your connections to our community and on your sense of personal well-being.

If you find this event causing you to feel overwhelmed, please reach out — to a friend, to your housemaster, to a member of the student support staff, to a mentor, to one of the deans, to a faculty member, to a departmental administrator. If you need guidance, support or just a sympathetic ear, MIT faculty and staff are here to help. Remember that you can find links to a wide range of resources at http://web.mit.edu/student/personal_support.html.

I hope this will be a time when we join in strengthening our MIT community: by reaching out to peers, colleagues, friends, and mentors to renew our sense of connection; by taking advantage of MIT resources for help in dealing with the emotional challenges brought on by these events; and by reflecting on our goals and aspirations, individually and together.

—Chancellor Eric Grimson PhD ’80