University News

Community rebuilds after tragedy at SciLi

Reception mourns death of Hyoun Ju Sohn GS, reframes building as a space for support

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

President Christina Paxson P’19 helped honor Hyoun Ju Sohn GS at an event held in the Sciences Library. Speakers discussed working toward community healing and creating a welcoming environment.

Undergraduates, graduate students and faculty members gathered at a reception in the Sciences Library Tuesday to commemorate the life of Hyoun Ju Sohn GS, who died after jumping from the building’s 12th floor one week ago.

“The more I learn about him, the sadder I am that he is no longer with us,” said President Christina Paxson P’19, who gave the event’s opening remarks. “The death of one student is too many.”

The event was held in the Friedman Study Center in the library’s basement. “I thought it was really important to do something in the Sciences Library,” Paxson said.

“Any time when something really hard happens in a location, we have to come back and make it our own,” said University Chaplain Janet Cooper Nelson in her remarks.

“University libraries are community hubs,” Paxson said, adding that she has encountered several couples who originally met in one of the University’s libraries. “They can be places of great frustration … but then they can also be places of great discovery,” she said. These University spaces elicit such emotions when students work tirelessly to craft arguments, crack problem sets and complete proofs, she said.

“My hope in getting everyone together here is to restore this space to what it should be,” Paxson added.

Nelson recognized the many late nights that students spend doing work in the library. “To me, this feels a little like the middle of an emotional night,” she said. “Let’s hold tight to each other.”

After Paxson and Nelson spoke, community members in attendance, as well as students working in the space, were encouraged to enjoy catered food and appreciate each other’s company.

“I wanted to welcome people back into the space,” Paxson told The Herald. “And I wanted to do it in a very purposeful way.”

“It’s really wonderful that we are having this event,” Steven Lavallee, head of the Friedman Study Center, told The Herald. “It’s been heartening to see the response of the community.”

Lavallee said his worst fear was that he would enter the library the day after the incident to find it completely empty. “But I came in and there was a bake sale on the first floor,” he said. “And I knew it was going to be all right when I saw those students.”

“The space is so beloved by students,” Lavallee said. “I didn’t want this space to be defined by this one event.”

A formal memorial service for Sohn will take place in May.

  • Joyce Meaghre

    Paxson does not relate. She does not know how to.

    • GS

      Nobody who was present last Tuesday at the vigil could in good conscience agree with you. Nothing good comes of this witless, mindless, heartless ad hominem stream against someone who–let us all remember, please, whatever offices or positions she holds–is also a human being.

      • ’15


      • CCS

        Oh, you must be the other guy who opened his ears. You had to, because you are her lawyer.

  • yikes

    robo-Paxson botches the commemoration of our dead classmate by talking about libraries instead

    also: “rebuilds”? christ

    • Yikes you

      Oh good lord. I’m sure you enjoy the mindless bashing of Paxson, but can we stop pretending you’re doing this because you care about our fellow student?

      Were you there? I felt like it was respectful and appropriate.

    • eric ’09

      if your goal is to move public opinion away from chris paxson with your trolling, you’ve really overplayed your hand here.