In tragedy’s wake, we reel. One student said that “the whole campus is just a raw, stinging nerve right now.” Everything seems fragile, so we cling together. We’re a little kinder. We hold the door. We say hello to people we don’t know too well and wave to people in the hallway even when they’re slightly too far away.
We wonder whether we should blame ourselves, whether we have somehow let go of one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. We try to imagine their pain. Did it feel greater than the pain of the loved ones who would be left behind?
In tragedy’s wake, we demand answers. We cry out for a solution, sometimes even before we know what the problem is.
We look for patterns, a culprit. We talk, as we should, about medical leave and MIT Mental Health. About resources and committees and awareness and student trust. We talk about the firehose: psets, deadlines, missed sleep. And we talk about how we talk about the psets, the deadlines, the six, four, two, zero hours of sleep.
These conversations, which are unfolding in The Tech and elsewhere, are essential. But perhaps too often, we try to fit the stories of those we’ve lost into a particular narrative. Christina and Matthew were individual people in unique situations. Let us be careful not to assume that these tragic losses resulted from coursework overload, inadequate support services, or a toxic culture.
Instead, in tragedy’s wake, let us remember them.
Let us remember Matthew, who brought a passion for robotics to MIT and worked at the Media Lab and The Tech’s business department. He wanted to study electrical engineering and computer science. Those who knew him say he was quiet, diligent, and kind, and that when he worked in the lounge, his hallmates would join him until every seat was taken. Let us remember Christina, an aspiring biomedical engineer and member of the Alpha Phi sorority. She joined the swim team, and when the pain from her nervous system disorder became too much, she switched to diving. Those who knew her admired her and called her strong, generous, and vibrant.
From all of us here at The Tech, we offer our deepest condolences to all the individuals and groups who have been affected by last week’s tragedies. May those we have lost rest in peace.