Again, an area college has been cursed with the tragic loss of a freshman. A year after John Fiocco Jr. went missing, Rider University, our neighbor in Lawrenceville, has to come to terms with the death of one of its own.
When someone is trying to console you, he’ll often say that they “know how you feel.” The truth is, you’ll never know what it’s like to lose a member of your community because no two situations are the same. At the same time, you can empathize with someone. We at the College don’t know exactly what you’re feeling at Rider, but we know the symptoms. I hope that maybe you’ll be spared some of the parasitic media attention that we endured last year, and I hope that your school isn’t subjected to overbearing new policies because of this tragedy.
I don’t know what Gary DeVercelly was like or anyone who was friends with him, but I know that he was a student like us who made a mistake and suffered because of it. I know whatever comments the naysayers make when something like this happens aren’t going to change the way college students live, nor does it make DeVercelly a bad person, an alcoholic or victim to an “evil” Greek system.
Though I never met him, I know that I believe every good thing I’ve read about him, because I’m sure they’re all true. What I can’t understand is the ridiculous information swarming around and how poorly the brothers of Phi Kappa Tau have come across in the news. But sadly, I have to believe the media is willing to do it because it happened here.
Students here at the College know full well what it’s like to have to grieve in public and what it’s like to be expected to offer a soundbite in the middle of a memorial service.
It’s horrible to read about your school, or see it on television, and know that you’re being misrepresented. Seeing your friends trying to escape from reporters and having to cringe because of every piece of misinformation in the news is a horrible feeling. It’s not nearly as bad as the pain of losing a friend, a classmate and a brother, but it definitely doesn’t make the healing any easier.
Just know that here at the College, we’re feeling for you guys. You just have to take it in stride and watch what you say to the reporters swarming your campus. The public spectacle will fade with time and you can start to heal as a community and family.