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.”

Jason Koski/Cornell Marketing Group Students, faculty and staff gather Sept. 1 on Ho Plaza for a vigil to remember Ithaca College sophomore Anthony Nazaire and Cornell junior Darryl Wu ’18.
Jason Koski/Cornell Marketing Group Students, faculty and staff gather Sept. 1 on Ho Plaza for a vigil to remember Ithaca College sophomore Anthony Nazaire and Cornell junior Darryl Wu ’18.

 

Lee was among approximately 200 people, representing Cornell and Ithaca College, who gathered on Ho Plaza Sept. 1 to remember the lives of two students, one from each school, who died this week.

Anthony Nazaire, a sophomore at Ithaca College, died just before 2 a.m. Aug. 28, steps away from where the vigil was held, from stab wounds sustained in a brawl following a party in Willard Straight Hall. The Ithaca Police Department is still investigating the incident.

Then on Aug. 30, the body of Wu was discovered in his Collegetown apartment. No official cause of death has been reported.

The Sept. 1 vigil began at 4 p.m. with the Rev. Kenneth Clarke, director of Cornell United Religious Work, addressing the somber gathering. He spoke of the transition Nazaire and Wu have made, “from our present to our past.”

Jason Koski/Cornell Marketing Group Rev. Kenneth Clarke, director of Cornell United Religious Work, speaks at the vigil.

“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.

Jason Koski/Cornell Marketing Group Gretchen Ritter ’83, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, hugs an attendee at the vigil.
Jason Koski/Cornell Marketing Group Gretchen Ritter ’83, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, hugs an attendee at the vigil.

“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.

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.