Trigger Warning: This letter discusses issues of death and suicide. These opinions to not reflect the staff at large.
Today, Chancellor George Blumenthal sent a campus-wide email mourning the death of former professor Jerry Nelson and celebrating his contributions to astronomy and astrophysics. We are saddened to hear of another death of a UC Santa Cruz member and also are in shock of the lack of acknowledgement of the death of 20-year-old UCSC student Zack Myers, who tragically took his own life and was found just yesterday.
No deaths are equal, and all death is tragic. We cannot help but question where remembrance for Myers’ death was, given that only Cowell College affiliates — less than a tenth of the entire student body — received an email about the tragedy. Was Myers’ death less impactful, less tragic, less sad, than that of a campus professor? The answer is no. By not acknowledging Myers’ death, it sends a message that administration not only deems it unworthy of an email, but also normalizes this tragedy and does not provide students with resources they may need.
We recognize and appreciate Chancellor Blumenthal’s email in regards to the death of Professor Nelson, and we too mourn his death. Yet, the lack of acknowledgement of a student’s death on this campus is shocking and disrespectful to not only those in mourning who knew Myers, but also many students who are shaken by this tragic incident. When a fellow student dies, especially when a student takes their own life, it hurts the very hearts and souls of students on this campus — it’s a sadness that extends beyond just the Cowell community, and deserves to be recognized as such.
For those in need of support or wishing to speak with someone, contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) crisis services at (831) 459-2628. Faculty and staff may contact the Employee Assistance Program at (866) 808-6205.