Tragedy, Spring, Hope

Today is Good Friday, one of the most important holidays for Christians across the globe, the start of Easter weekend. This evening marks the beginning of Passover, a time for Jews of commemoration and hope for freedom. And so the reports from Africa fall particularly hard. Religious and non-religious people alike are reeling from the news out of Kenya. Garrissa University College was the site of a horrific attack, with 147 students being murdered by Shabab, a notorious terrorist organization. There are reports of indiscriminate killings, but also of “religious tests” meant to reveal whether a person was a Christian or Muslim. If Christian, killed on the spot.

All terrorist attacks undermine the very fabric of a community — that’s their point. They seek not military advantage, but to shake confidence in our ability to live together in peace and security. Attacks on schools and universities are particularly heinous, because these are centers of hope for the future. People organize to learn because they believe through education they can create a better world. Terror at schools is meant to destroy that hope. It will not.

Education is a slow, incremental process, yet it can also be transformative. By working at learning every day, suddenly you find yourself on an entirely different trajectory. May our friends and colleagues at Garrissa find their way back to education as they deal with the deep trauma and grief of these recent days. In Kenya, there will be some measure of defiance when students, teachers and staff resume their educational project. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.


At Wesleyan, “working at learning every day” seems to be an understatement this time of year. Everyone is so busy, and there are so many exciting things happening on campus! It seems like every day there is an art opening, or a performance or a lecture that promises to be a great experience. Meanwhile, the athletes are digging out of the frozen earth and insisting on spring sports. Bravo! Check out the amazing accomplishments of the track teams, or the mighty efforts of lacrosse as it makes its way through a very tough NESCAC field. Tennis this year has had particular success, and Coach Fried and his teams are to be commended. Last I heard, the women’s team  is ranked very high in national polls. Baseball and softball are chasing away the winter blues. Support the Cardinals!

And do check out theater and music opportunities. At the Patricelli ’92, the theater department, and Greek organizations…lots of venues are getting in on the act. You can see everything from avant-garde explorations to popular musicals. Of course, students take the lead.

And what’s that little noise you hear? What’s the persistent background hum on campus? Why, it’s the thesis writers putting their finishing touches on experiments, novels, historical treatises and mighty translation projects. Be kind to them, they are expanding the frontiers of knowledge!

These are some of the everyday activities at the Wesleyan campus — activities that are only possible because of a community that values peace and respect, as well as creativity, rigor and pragmatic innovation. As many of us celebrate holidays, or just celebrate the season, let us be thankful for this community, and for the work and affection that suffuses it with positive energy.



Updated to reflect actual, horrific death count.