Mourning the tragic death of Misrach Ewunetie
Dear campus community,
We write to share with you a message that undergraduate students received from us on Sunday night as they returned from fall break. Dean of the Graduate School Rodney D. Priestley has sent a similar message to graduate students.
Dear Undergraduate Students,
We write to acknowledge the grief that veils our campus over the death of Misrach Ewunetie ’24 last week. As V.P. Calhoun noted in her message to the campus on October 20th, Misrach’s death is an “unthinkable tragedy.”
Misrach was an undergraduate sociology concentrator with interests in computer science; she was a member of Terrace Club and New College West. An immigrant from Ethiopia who settled in Ohio, Misrach was also active in African student organizations on campus. She is remembered as a kind and loving friend.
Since Misrach was reported missing on Sunday evening, October 16, the University’s Department of Public Safety has worked closely with local and state law enforcement and does not believe any related threat exists to campus or the surrounding area.
Out of an abundance of caution, the University has increased staffing and patrols in student living areas. Our campus is already patrolled 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by sworn law enforcement officers and security officers. Access to campus residential areas is also controlled. As a result, the Department of Public Safety is confident it’s safe for students to return to campus from fall break.
While we know that students across campus will respond to and absorb Misrach’s death differently, we’ve urged faculty and staff to find ways to acknowledge the loss our community has suffered. The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) has asked us to invite faculty to take a moment at the beginning of their classes this week to recognize Misrach’s death and to refer students to the support services VP Calhoun lists in her message (linked above).
For many students addressing such a loss, maintaining routine and structure is very important. But inevitably, some students will experience this loss more deeply and more personally than others, particularly those who were Misrach’s friends. Students may request academic adjustments during the next couple of weeks as they take time to process their grief.
We encouraged faculty to respond to individual student requests with compassion and to contact the student’s residential college dean or assistant dean for studies for help supporting undergraduates through their grief and concern.
Mayu Takeuchi ’23, the USG President, and Austin Davis ’23, the USG Academics Committee Chair, suggest, “Above all, we appreciate instructors, staff, and administrators continuing to exercise compassion and care with students and for the rest of the University community, especially in these difficult times. Because these are tragic circumstances, we should not push on as normal; it is important that we continue to validate the very real grief that shrouds our community.
Deans in the College and Campus Life are also available to advise students who have questions about student academic engagement during this mournful moment.
The University has invited those community members who wish to remember Misrach and to address our collective grief to come together in a private gathering with chaplains from the Office of Religious Life, counselors from Counseling and Psychological Services, residential college staff, Graduate School staff, and others.
Once again, we ask that you acknowledge Misrach’s death with your faculty, staff, and with one another, as a way to share our grief and to support one another during this loss.
We’re holding all of you and Misrach’s memory in our hearts.
Dean Jill Dolan and V.P. W. Rochelle Calhoun
Please note: This public version of the student letter omits details of the private community gathering to express our collective grief.