On Wednesday, our hearts collectively sank when we learned our community lost one of its youngest members. Jocelyn Amelia Straus, a freshman political communication major from El Cerrito, California, died in her dorm room Tuesday night.
College is about new starts. For many of us, Emerson is our first home away from home, our first big step into the real world, our launching pad for ambitious lives and careers. But now, after President M. Lee Pelton informed us about Straus’ death, we must confront a more solemn set of beginnings.
We are just beginning to grasp for words, but it feels like our language cannot fully express the profound sorrow of a death so close to home.
We are just beginning to come together for healing, but a loss like this cannot help but remain indelible.
Though Straus’ time at Emerson was far too short, she was still an integral part of this tight-knit college community. Chances are we had each interacted with her in some way. Maybe she was part of your group at an orientation week event, or your friend lived on her floor, or you sat next to her in the library. You may have brushed shoulders with her on a hurried walk to class.
She was one of us. She lived on Boylston Street, ate her meals in the dining hall, and waited in line for the elevators in the Walker Building.
As Pelton wrote, Straus was “a bright light taken from this world far too soon.”
And now, we will take the time to commemorate her accomplishments and honor her life.
When a tragedy occurs, we should remember to be understanding toward our peers. Everyone deals with death differently, and we must recognize that some may take days, weeks, or even months for some of us to recover. Mourning shouldn’t be rushed.
Though it is certainly human nature to be immediately curious for some sort of expansive explanation, we must pause to consider what details we really need to know. It’s our way of trying to understand something that’s maybe not so understandable. But it’s important to remember that we don’t need to know everything. Some details should stay private. What we, the Emerson community, do know is that something tragic has happened, and that’s enough.
In his email to the student body that alerted the Emerson community to Straus’ death, Pelton highlighted the abundance of resources and professionals willing to help us all through this difficult time. Students who wish to speak with professionals have multiple opportunities: sessions with Emerson’s Counseling and Psychological Services, guidance from the Spiritual Life office, and listening ears of staff members from the Office of Housing and Residence Life.
At Emerson, we surround ourselves with signs of vitality: the vigor of campus activities, the bustle of the Common, the promise of a diploma. But this tragedy throws the fragility of life into sharp relief. It shows that each of our moments together are valuable, each serendipitous connection a moment to be savored. As we mourn together, let us be supportive and caring, and remember Jocelyn Amelia Straus.