Today, May 6, marks two years since the fatal shooting of Johanna Justin-Jinich ’10 on May 6, 2009, at the Red & Black Cafe. (Last year’s Spring Fling coincided with the first anniversary of the tragedy, angering many and resulting in this WeSpeak. This year, a day’s separation between the two occasions is welcome and appropriate—but for many in the upper classes, Spring Fling remains inextricably tied to memories of senseless violence and community tragedy.)
The Class of ’11 exits in just a few short weeks. 2012 will be the last remaining undergraduate class with memories of the shooting. How does it feel? (As the Middletown Press notes today, Stephen P. Morgan’s case still remains months away from trial. According to state prosecutor Timothy Liston, “the defendant is currently undergoing a psychological evaluation at the hands of a state-appointed physician.” With a seemingly endless trial in progress, can closure be reached?)
Let this post be a space for reflection and remembrance. President Roth’s remarks on the first anniversary of Justin-Jinich’s death follow below.
The end of spring semester, traditionally a time of celebration at Wesleyan, also brings to mind the sad events of a year ago. May 6 marks the first anniversary of the tragic death of Johanna Justin-Jinich ’10. This year, May 6 also happens to mark the end of the semester, traditionally a day when students gather for “Spring Fling” to celebrate their achievements. I know many on campus are uneasy about participating in festivities this year, and I wanted to acknowledge that uneasiness even as we prepare to both mark the end of the school year and mourn our great loss of a year ago. A list of events honoring Johanna’s memory will be sent around soon.
We continue to work and live as a community, and this year we anticipate our annual May celebration being mindful of this tragedy. We all choose to commemorate, celebrate or grieve in different ways. Some of us prefer privacy, others seek out friends or groups. Some of us will pray or reflect, others will dance and sing. We are providing our community – students, faculty, staff and others – with a variety of options to gather together for remembrance, reflection as well as celebration. We have the freedom to pay our respects and remember in whatever way we choose.
Spring Fling has long marked the end of classes, and it still does. The fact that we have chosen not to abandon that tradition is not a sign of disrespect, but it is a sign that we will not change the culture of our campus because of a senseless act of violence. Spring is here. Let us celebrate, and let us remember.
Michael S. Roth