There is a plaque on the red-brick wall outside of the outdoor pool, a bench situated near the waterfall behind the Esplanade and a name sprawled across the announcer’s booth at the soccer field. The plaque isn’t there to commemorate a sports victory, the bench isn’t the Urban Studs’ newest addition to campus and the name on the announcer’s booth isn’t that of a university benefactor; they’re memorials to students of Trinity.
To most, these small commemorative objects are invisible as they pass by them on their way to class each morning, giving no thought to their meaning. But, for a select few, these memorials are a constant reminder of the roommate who didn’t come home or the empty spot at the end of the table in Mabee.
Next Friday, Nov. 23, marks the one-year anniversary of the death of Alex Reinis, a junior who passed away while studying abroad in London last fall. His passing, brought on by a short and sudden bout of the same kind of bacteria that causes meningitis, shocked the Trinity community and left in its wake a group of students who are still trying to come to terms with the loss.
Today, an olive tree flourishes next to a bench on the lawn out in front of Miller Hall, Alex’s first-year residence hall. It is the twin to another olive tree that grows in London and was selected because Alex was thought of as a peacemaker.
On Saturday, Alex’s friends and family will gather on the lawn to remember him by having a picnic. The event is open to the public and anyone interested in learning more about Alex is welcome to attend.
But as we reflect on this recent tragedy, we should also make an effort to remember others. In an email on Wednesday, David Tuttle, vice president of student affairs and dean of students, recounted some of the student deaths Trinity has experienced over the years.
Among them were Alex Row, an athlete who passed away while swimming in December of 1998, Tiffany Hunnicutt, an alumna killed in a car accident in 1997, only a year after graduating from Trinity, Tim Isom, a soccer player who passed away due to an aneurism in 2000 and Emma Hutchinson, a
member of the sorority Phi Delta Kappa, who passed away after a lifelong battle with polycystic kidney disease in 2008.
In his email, the dean said, “I could name a half dozen others who died when they were students here that aren’t memorialized on campus. And that is too bad “” too bad to lose any students and too bad they are not all memorialized in one way or another.”
One of the many blessings Trinity offers is a close-knit community. When someone goes missing we notice and, even if you don’t know the individual personally, you know someone who did.
As we head into the hectic period that is finals combined with the holiday season, pause and take a moment to remember those that we have lost and to remember what life is all about. While that project may feel important now, remember you can’t take it with you when you go and that the things that matter most aren’t things at all: they’re people.