Editor’s Note: This article was written by Tom Fleischman for the Cornell Chronicle. It is republished with permission.
ITHACA, NY – Stephen Lee, professor of chemistry and chemical biology, knew right away that Darryl Wu ’18 was someone special.
“I met him earlier this year,” Lee said. “It was the very beginning of a rocket ship that was about to take off. He’s someone that would have made a difference in the world of chemistry. We could see that he, as a sophomore, was someone who could make a difference.”
“Regardless of whether we knew either of them, we are all either directly or indirectly affected by their unexpected transition,” he said. “We live in a relational world; their deaths reverberate across our campuses, our community and beyond – for those who knew them and for those who only knew about them, their abilities, their kindness, their drive, their abilities, their curiosity, not only about their life of learning, but about life itself.”
He asked the question that undoubtedly all who knew both of the young men have asked repeatedly: Why?
“It’s that bottomless question for which there is never a sufficient answer,” he said.
Clark closed by calling for the community to draw strength from each other and move forward as one.
“Together, let us move forward,” he said. “Together, let us grapple with the question, why? Together, let us grapple with the lack of immediate answers. Together, let us make a community in which violence is not the way in which we settle conflicts. Together, let us make nonviolence the norm and not the exception.
“Together, let us watch out for our friends … and show care for every student,” he said. “Together, let us ensure that underrepresented students survive and thrive on our campuses. Together.”
Lee and linguistics professor Abby Cohn then gave brief tributes to Wu, and an Ithaca College student also spoke, thanking the community for helping with the healing process. The student is a member of Brothers4Brothers, a club for men of color at the college to meet and discuss social, academic and political issues. Nazaire was the organization’s treasurer.
Candles were lit and Catholic chaplain Carsten Martensen offered closing remarks before the gathering dispersed at around 4:30 p.m.