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The Day After the Tragedy

April 16, 2013

Dear Members of the Simmons Community:

Yesterday was a sad and frightening day here in Boston. I was in Omaha, Nebraska at a conference when I learned of the events unfolding at home. I spent the next several hours getting information, disadvantaged by cell phone and iPad access difficulties. I finally learned about the most important activity of the moment: ensuring the safety of our students, and ascertaining the whereabouts of as many as possible. My first priority was to get back to campus. I was unable to get a flight home last evening, and left early this morning, arriving around lunchtime.

When something as horrible as this happens, the range of feelings we experience is as broad as the number of people affected. Now that I am home, these events are even more shocking. Before I speak more about that, I want to clarify what information we have about our community members.

To our knowledge, no one in the immediate Simmons community, that is, faculty, staff, or students, was injured in the bombings. We do not yet know about alumnae/i, close friends of the College, people with whom we work in the various practicum sites and agencies, neighboring institutions, and other experiential education opportunities open to our students and staff. We know that some of the victims were known or even related to some of our community members. If you are aware of anyone who has been injured in our greater community, please let me know.

We do know that at least scores of members of the Simmons community were at the Marathon finish line, either as observers, volunteers or helpers in the first aid tents. Others were in some of the hospitals, which received victims, or comforting those people later in the day.

To provide an opportunity for the Simmons community to come together for time to share our feelings and comfort one another, we will hold a gathering tomorrow from noon to 1:00 PM in the Common Grounds Café. I encourage all to take a break from your routine, and I hope wherever possible faculty can release students from classes just before noon to make attendance possible for the greatest number.

While we all try to come to terms with what has happened, we must do so guided by the values that are our traditions: a collective investment in community, and collaboration for the common good. We can and must support each other in the coming days and weeks as we seek to make sense of this tragedy. Inherent in our values is a spirit of inclusiveness that results in openness and trust, encouraging us to work together for a better life. We must understand that the perpetrators of such wanton damage will be identified through proper investigative techniques, and not by the speculation of the public street.

I would like to close by turning back to the feelings we experience in these tragic times. I remember living in Alexandria, Virginia in the aftermath of 9/11, and feeling so confused about how my own hometown was the launch site of the two planes which hit the twin towers. Yesterday and today, I have felt the same confusion about the bombings. Why Boston? Why such inhumanity? How do we ever return to normalcy? What can we possibly learn from such unspeakable evil? In the end, we as human beings must find a way to accept that there are some things we will never understand, and that the only way to triumph against such horror is to live our very best lives in spite of it.

I want to let everyone know that all scheduled events on campus will continue as planned this week. In addition to tomorrow’s community gathering in the Common Grounds Café, there will be several opportunities throughout the week to discuss yesterday’s events. Please find a complete list at the end of this e-mail.

I want to say how very grateful I am to know each and every one of you, and for your contributions to this wonderful community. I hope to see as many of you as possible tomorrow.

-Helen

Tuesday, 4/16
7:30PM
Team Room, Holmes Sports Center
Athletes, Coaches, Athletics Staff Gathering

7:45PM
Residence Campus Quad
Take Back the Night Vigil

Wednesday, 4/17
Noon
Common Grounds, Main College Building
Simmons Community-wide Gathering

*Counseling Center Staff will be available to meet with students in the Student Activities area on the lower level of the Main College Building starting from 11AM-Noon in the Student Activities Area and from 1-3:30 pm in C-105 following the community gathering.

3:30-5:00PM
S-183, Science Building
School of Nursing and Health Sciences Community Gathering

Thursday, 4/18
11:30AM-12:30PM
Student Activities Area, Lower Level, MCB
Counseling Center Staff available to meet with Community Members

Friday, 4/19
2:30-3:30PM
Student Activities Area, Lower Level, MCB
Counseling Center Staff available to meet with Community Members

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