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Regis campus presses forwardSeptember 28, 2010
M. J. Doherty, Ph. D. 781-768-7015
Marjorie Arons Barron 617-435-2707
September 28, 2010
Regis College classes and scheduled activities proceeded this week as police continued their investigation into the stabbings that occurred on campus on September 24. Long planned Founders’ Day ceremonies (September 30) and Homecoming activities (September 28-October 2) have helped the campus pick up some of the positive energy of the new semester and begin the healing process.
At the same time, conversations with various constituencies on campus have reflected the seriousness and sadness with which the Regis community regards the recent and highly unusual incident. The death early last Friday morning on the Regis College campus of 18-year-old Elhadji Malick Ndiaye of Waltham, the only son of immigrants from Senegal, and the injury of another man who is recovering, shocked the normally quiet campus.
Information about the victims, who were not Regis students, has been limited while police search for the perpetrator and conduct an active police investigation. Fully cooperating with the investigation, the compassionate Regis College learning community has nevertheless found the relative information silence difficult. The instinct is to know and respond, to reach out and console at a time of tragedy. Trauma counseling provided to students, administrators, faculty and staff has helped the campus understand that such feelings of frustration and confusion can be effects of the shock.
At the same time, as students returned to campus on Monday, September 27, one could feel the normal vitality of the week asserting itself. College president Mary Jane England, MD, helped to fill the information void by making an appeal to students. This tragic incident does not reflect a Regis way of being, she said. “Regis is a peaceful community, and it has zero tolerance for violence and for behaviors that place the community at risk.”
Recognizing how much students cherish the space that this campus gives them to become themselves and achieve their academic and professional goals, England called upon them to learn from the experience and help build up the Regis College community. “Because of this tragedy,” she noted, “we all must intensify our efforts to communicate our legacy of peace in the way we act, speak and interrelate. For over 80 years, the Sisters of St. Joseph, and dedicated faculty, staff and alums have informed this campus with a love of God and neighbor. If you belong to Regis, you will step up to the plate and carry through this attitude of social justice as well.”
Faculty and staff have been highly present to students, and on Tuesday, September 28, during a regularly scheduled open time in the academic schedule, faculty met to discuss how their classes and conversations with students were going, and to share observations on what needs were being expressed, what questions were being raised. The community is pulling together.
Although investigators felt there was no further danger on campus, security has been strengthened in order to help restore a sense of safety and normalcy on campus. Police presence was assigned to each residence hall 24/7, including Angela Hall where the Children’s Center is located. Foot patrols have also increased during the daytime. The wooded, hilly campus has remained open, but with access being monitored and controlled. The northern and southern gates have been closed at night, and the open main drive marked by police presence. The campus is well lighted and has a video surveillance system in residence halls entries and parking lots. Regis Campus Police have received praise during the ongoing investigation for their responses and procedures, and the campus video surveillance system and lighting have been helpful to investigators.
At midweek, the strength of the campus is showing itself as our community interprets the recent violence and begins to place it in the context of Regis College values that will help inform the community’s response. Founders’ Day convocation focused on the immigrant experience is upon us, as well as the Cap and Gown ceremony for seniors, Homecoming celebrations, the Sponsored Ministries Meeting and the Graduate Program Reception. As classes proceed and these other traditional activities unfold, one can feel members of this extended Catholic learning community reaching out to one another with a new care in its social interactions and a heightened awareness of the responsibilities that are essential today in sustaining openness and access on all college campuses.