The past few days have been an extremely sad and troubling time for the UT community. A freshman dance major, Haruka Weiser, was found murdered on campus earlier this week. She was walking a well worn path on campus when she met her assailant, barely a quarter of a mile from her dorm, just out of plain site. My heart is heavy for the victim’s family, friends, and all who knew her, as well as for our student population, who are trying to grieve the loss of one of their own, and grappling with increased fear and anxiety regarding their safety of campus.
I have spent the past ten years on campus, first as a student and now as a staff member. Life on a university campus is so many things- it’s vibrant, fast paced; full of life and possibility. But in the past ten years, it has also become a place of fear. Posters telling us what to do in the case of an active shooter situation adorn every bulletin board. Weekly we test sirens and emergency protocol systems. There are police call boxes everywhere around campus, daily email warnings to be aware of our surroundings. I am so grateful for these safety measures. I have seen them put to good use- once when we spent four hours on lock down because of a shooter on campus, and once because of a bomb threat that evacuated the entire campus.
And yet. Bad things, terrible things still happen. And we are left with the pieces. I hate that we live in a world where students have to be afraid of walking the six minute trek home alone. And I hate that there are people in this world who have been so unloved and abused and mistreated that they want to take another’s life from them.
I want to hug every student I see, to tell them that of course safety is important, but also that life is so very precious, and I mean their life specifically.
I am praying for Haruka’s family as they deal with this absolutely unimaginable loss. I am praying for her murderer, who was charged this afternoon, that he would feel remorse for the heinous crime he committed, and repent of what he did. I am praying for light to come from darkness.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”