An open letter to our students, faculty, staff, and the University of Waterloo community,

Some of you will have heard that we have lost three students this term. One student passed away unexpectedly due to an unknown medical condition. Another took their own life. A tragic accident resulted in yet another student dying much too soon. Each of their families have suffered losses that will last forever. These students leave behind legacies and footprints on our campus community. They have left lasting impressions on their professors, the staff who knew them, and most importantly their peers. 

When we lose a member of the UWaterloo community, very often their families want to know, to understand and to feel the impact their loved one had during their time here. And this past month, you demonstrated why this community is so unique. In the aftermath of each of these tragedies, students led the way in rallying all of us to help and support each other and the families of these students. Your understanding and realization that we need each other to get through these unthinkably difficult times is remarkable.

This is an awesome community. I feel this more strongly than ever before, prompted by responses I have observed related to these events. Most of our students choose to study here when they could go almost anywhere - something about the University of Waterloo resonates with them. These students are amazing individuals before they decide to join our community and usually take advantage of the opportunity to better themselves and to have a positive impact on others. This is only possible because thousands of peers who share the same hopes, dreams and ambitions surround them. One thing that has become clear to me in the years I’ve worked here is that our students prove their resilience, their determination and their commitment to each other and to the University. Even when the worst circumstances stare them in the eye.

When things seem difficult and hopeless, we have each other, and professionals like counselling services, to rely on to help anyone who is struggling. Community is about knowing someone is there for you. Thank you to every one of you for the support and comfort that you lend to those around you – sometimes without knowing it’s when someone else needs it most. Let’s continue to be there for each other and know that we can come together and be a proud part of our great community.

Sincerely,

Chris Read

Associate Provost, Students

February 3, 2017

P.S. If you, or someone you know needs someone to talk to, please visit Counselling Services or UW Mates