The University of Texas will hold a gathering at the Main Mall Wednesday at 7 pm to honor the victims of the stabbing that happened on campus Monday.
The following letter from UT president Greg Fenves addresses the tragic events that took place, including a description of Harrison Brown - the freshman Longhorn who lost his life Monday afternoon.
As many of you have heard, there was a terrible tragedy on our campus Monday. A UT student attacked four other UT students, leaving one dead and three injured. Soon after the violence started, the single suspect was quickly apprehended by police and is now in their custody. Our hearts are broken and our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the student who died, Harrison Brown, and with the surviving victims and their families.
I met with Harrison’s mother Lori and brother John yesterday, and they spoke to me about him.
They told me about Harrison’s passion for music and how he loved being a Longhorn. They told me that he had an incredible voice, and after speaking with housing staff, I learned that many in Jester East got to know him by hearing his music from a distance, then stopping to listen. Harrison sang everywhere — in stairwells, bedrooms and hallways. His voice was magical, and his gifts and talents touched students throughout campus.
Just last week, a fellow Jester East resident tweeted, “There is a guy that always sings U smile…when I pass by & it makes me smile.” That was Harrison Brown.
Classes and events on campus were held yesterday, and our students, faculty members and staff members came to the Forty Acres to do what they do best — teach, learn and discover. At The University of Texas at Austin, providing groundbreaking education and research is our mission, and it is also an essential part of our healing process, as we work to make sense of this violent action.
The UT Police Department reacted swiftly to the attack, and we believe that the responding officers saved lives. However, there were mistakes made in police communication with campus, and we acknowledge that parts of our response to the incident could have been handled better, particularly our efforts to communicate with students in those first few minutes.
Monday’s events are a reminder of how diligent we must be in presenting accurate information in the age of social media. We were too slow to let the entire campus know about the stabbings after they happened. And UTPD was too quick to report there was no threat west of campus because, as we learned later that evening, an incident had taken place.
Students rely on us to make decisions for their safety and well-being, and we need to do better. We will do better.
We will honor Harrison and all of the victims of the attack by gathering on the Main Mall tonight at 7 p.m. If you are in the Austin area, I strongly encourage you to attend and show your support.
The sadness and pain that comes with the death of this young student is immeasurable, and it will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Now is a time to grieve for Harrison, for his parents, family and friends. But it is not a time to give in to divisiveness, or to give up on the dream of this university.
We are Longhorns because we learn. We are Longhorns because we teach. We are Longhorns because we discover. And we are Longhorns because we change the world. And we are going to keep doing that. In this way, we can honor the memory of Harrison Brown and other Longhorns we have lost.
Gregory L. Fenves,
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