I did not personally know Jeffrey Bordeaux, Jr. Nor do I know Daren Venable. So why is it that these past weeks I have found myself struggling with feelings of shock, confusion and grief for the students and everyone involved in this recent tragedy?
My only answer is that while neither Bordeaux, Venable nor I knew it before Saturday, Jan. 15th, now I realize that we are part of one community — our humanity is inexplicably interwoven. It is my community that has been broken by violence and tragedy, just as it is your community. I’m left with regrets and perhaps even guilt — as if I could only have figured out what it was in time, I could have done something to stop this from happening.
Without knowing Bordeaux or Venable personally, it is easy to compartmentalize my pain, my anger and my fear. It is easy to continue with my day-to-day activities and pretend a tragedy did not just take place in my community. I have also realized that my denial of these feelings is not only keeping me from healing — it is also detrimental to the healing of our community. Denying these feelings now will influence the way I act in the future toward others.
Will my anger or sadness contribute to an environment of fear and isolation? As is true for anyone in our community, my action or inaction causes a ripple in our pond. There it is again — the fact that whether we like it or not, we are all in this together.
I am grateful that many have recognized this obligation and stepped in to create various spaces and processes to work through the fear, anger, sadness and confusion that can suffocate in the moments following something so tragic.
It is not solely up to the faculty, staff or administration to decide how we as a community respond to such violence and tragedy. It is up to all of us. We, hand in hand, are the ones walking into the future.
We each have the responsibility to ask ourselves, “How did I contribute to an atmosphere in our community that supported violence, in any form? How do I, instead, contribute to an atmosphere of respect, understanding, and nonviolence?” This future is not exclusively up to President Seligman or Dean Burns. This future lies in each of us.
I do not know how we get there. I do not have a map to tell us where we should go from here. Sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other is hard enough.
What I do know is that my well-being is connected to your well-being. And I know that no matter how different we may be from each other, we must come together to walk towards a more peaceful future.
Let us move forward together to create the community of which we want to belong. Let us do this not only in honor of Jeffrey Bordeaux but also in honor of each other.
So, in this time of so many emotions, let us ask for what we need. If it is space to share the grief and anger, let us create that space. If it is silence to remember, let us ask for time to do so. If it is solitude to process individually, let us enlighten one another to this need. If it is reassurance to feel safe on campus, let us take action to discover what this means.
Because, as I am reminded by the events of Jan. 15th, the violence that took place between Bordeaux and Venable was not just between the two of them. It was between all of us.