A sophomore and member of a student committee where she advocates for public safety, Ms. Merin returned to her dorm to find a note on the door, still unhinged, that read, “Be nicer “. The security guards asked Ms. Merin if she thought it was a prank. She said no. Ms Merin, who is black, was so upset by the incident that she took a month off from school. When she returned after the Thanksgiving holiday, she had her own security camera installed in her bedroom.
Seeking to address community concerns and anxieties over Ms Ewunetie’s death, administrators sent another letter almost two weeks later, reiterating that authorities had found no evidence to support the gambling theories unfair. It wasn’t uniformly reassuring, in part because the same letter explained how security protocols around dorms would nonetheless be tightened, campus lighting would be improved, and security camera programs would be expanded. “While we know our campus is safe,” wrote the five deans who signed the letter, “it is important that you also feel safe.”
The message came across as disconcerting and perhaps even arrogant to some students and teachers. Speaking on behalf of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Students Association, Faeven Mussie argued that it was not logical that the school had come to the conclusion so quickly that they had done so without all the expertise relevant forensics. “We don’t know what to think or what to believe or if we’re safe here,” she said, adding that it probably would have been better had college officials said up front that they just didn’t know. not what happened. and that a response would take time.
“There’s no reason for anyone to believe it was not suspect,” sophomore Isadora Knutsen told me when we discussed the death last week.
The case highlights all too clearly the dissonance endemic to contemporary university life, where vast resources are deployed in the name of an illusory emotional security – which uncertainty and the random inclinations of misfortune too often emerge to destabilize. Multimillion-dollar wellness centers, text message content warnings, round-the-clock telephone advice – all aimed at providing a veneer of comfort and safety in a society where random acts of violence are currency. current.
Unlike other big-city universities comparable to the elite, Princeton is surrounded by suburban affluence and enjoys relative distance from crime. But the past year has brought other tragedies. In May, two undergraduate students died less than a week apart, one “losing his life to mental illness at his home in Chicago,” as a dean’s email put it. the community. In the second case, the student’s family had requested that the cause of his death not be disclosed.
On October 24, two vigils were held on campus in honor of Misrach Ewunetie, who was studying sociology and computer science. Hundreds came to cry. The teachers met the students of his classes; the sociology department organized an origami workshop because Mrs. Ewunetie loved origami. A conference centered on his interests was in the planning stages. For now, collective mourning would be the only option.