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Message to the Community

Cambridge, Mass.

Dear Members of the Harvard Community:

We are deeply grateful to law enforcement officials from Boston, Cambridge, and Watertown and from across the state and nation for their apprehension last evening of the surviving suspect in the marathon bombing. Yesterday was a harrowing day in a week of tragedy, suffering, and uncertainty—as well as courage and solidarity. After Monday’s unthinkable violence and loss, we mourned the victims and wondered how such evil could intrude into our beloved city and community. Friday we found its apparent origins terribly close to home.

We extend our deepest sympathy to our MIT neighbors and to the friends and family of the officer killed Thursday night, to the MBTA officer now recovering in Mount Auburn Hospital after being critically injured in the line of fire, and to all who are mourning loss and injury this week, particularly the families anguished by losing loved ones in Monday’s brutal attack. Across the Boston area we have together faced a sense of anxiety and vulnerability we could not have imagined even a short week ago, before the marathon bombing, the Watertown shootout, and the eerie stillness of a daylong community-wide lockdown shook our lives.

In the course of the week, many have noted examples of the extraordinary goodness that these terrible events have paradoxically generated. We have seen the bravery and generosity of emergency workers and first responders, of physicians and nurses, of neighbors and friends; the determination to sustain and affirm fundamental spiritual and civic values in the face of assaults on so much we hold dear; the will to help and to serve in times of exigency and need.

Even as we confront the horror of what humans can do, we see as well the majesty of what people can be, as they take risks and make efforts for others and for something beyond themselves. We must not forget that human capacity during what will be difficult days and weeks to come. The trauma of this violence so close to home will not quickly fade; it will affect each one of us in ways we must face together.

Harvard offers a number of sources of support, through University Health Services (UHS), through an array of formal and informal networks and counseling services for students across the College and the Schools, and through the Employee Assistance Program available to staff and faculty. UHS (617-495-5711, available for individual counseling and after-hours urgent care) is adding capacity and arranging special sessions for people who wish to talk, starting with two drop-in general discussion groups at 12:00 and 2:00 p.m. today in the Resource Center on the second floor of UHS in Holyoke Center. UHS is also working with colleagues in the Houses and the Yard to assure special support for undergraduates. I urge you to seek whatever support you feel you may need—by taking advantage of such resources, by turning to one another for conversation and consolation, by drawing on the immense collective strength of our community.

The Harvard University Police have this past week not only provided enhanced security on campus but have also assisted fellow law enforcement officers in Cambridge, Boston, and Watertown.  We are proud of them and deeply grateful for their service. Please continue to reach out to them (617-495-1212) if you have concerns about safety.

Times like these test our resilience and call forth our humanity. To the many people across Harvard who have worked under extraordinary circumstances to maintain the University’s operations, to secure our campus, to console and assist others, and to keep our community strong, I offer thanks from us all.

Drew Faust

Contact information: Harvard University Health Services (including individual counseling and after-hours urgent care): (617) 495-5711

Harvard University Police Department: (617) 495-1212

See also and School/local websites