I am very upset over the way the RIT administration handled notifying the death of a friend of mine. His name was Dominic Clemente-Gould and he was a very special person in the lives of many.
One of the hardest things for me at the moment is to refer to him in the past tense ... Especially since he was the closest to the epitome of a vibrant and lively soul that I have encountered to date.
On Thursday, August 20, Dom passed away quietly and alone. He did not make headlines in the papers nor was he mourned in a Robin Williams-styled social media grieving wave. He has a cluster of close friends, family members and acquaintances that have been deeply affected by his passing. (Yes, even mere acquaintances can't believe he won't be there anymore to add spark to their day).
RIT sent a discrete message on Tuesday, August 26 - the day of his funeral in Oakland, CA - notifying the university body of the events. It was insipid and robotic (an obvious template) and yet grammar mistakes still made their way into said message.
On August 28, we received another message mourning the passing of Timothy Holmes one day after his death was reported. It included a colored RIT letterhead, no grammatical or ortographical errors I could catch, and a heartfelt message with personal anecdotes from friends.
I am sure Timothy Holmes was a great human being that I, sadly, did not have the pleasure of meeting. Nevertheless, the bias in disclosing the one set of news over another by the RIT administration has left a terrible and bitter taste in my mouth.
Dominic Clemente-Gould was a wonderful person who did not deserve to be outshadowed by another student simply because he wasn't more involved in student leadership. In an environment where students keep pressuring themselves to achieve and over-achieve, I believe it is crucial that we emphasize that, regardless of said academic, extracurricular, social or financial success, there is no such thing as human or individual superiority.
I am sure the messages I am referencing to were not intended to be controversial. But given that I (as well as those affected by the tragic events are) am sensitive about this issue, I would appreciate some understanding and more caution in the future when dealing with such sensitive issues.