CMU remembers the lives of Elliott Glasgow and Rajat Patra
This Wednesday, March 30, the Carnegie Mellon community was shaken by the news that two students, Elliott Glasgow and Rajat Patra, had passed away.
19-year-old Elliott Glasgow was a first-year undergraduate student in the College of Engineering and a New York City native. Rajat Patra was a 25-year-old student in the Heinz College Master of Information Systems Management Program from Bangalore, India.
Students noted a tangible change in the atmosphere of the campus in response to this heartbreaking and unexpected news. Many teachers cancelled classes the following day or postponed class activities in order to allow students to talk through their emotions. Students also took to social media to express the loss they felt or to express how this news impacted them strongly, even if they did not know either student personally.
In response to the passing of these two men, the horizontal bars of the fence were painted red with the integration of a lone heart. The vertical stands displayed lines in the colors of Tartan plaid to signify the integral roles Glasgow and Patra played as part of the Carnegie Mellon community.
In an email to the Carnegie Mellon community, University President Subra Suresh, Provost Farnam Jahanian, and Dean of Student Affairs Gina Casalegno said that Glasgow “was a vital member of his residential community and a brother of Phi Delta Theta, known by his many friends for his wit and sense of humor,” and Patra was “a passionate student who had earned a prestigious internship for the summer and was planning to create his own IT consultancy after graduation. He was also an avid guitar player and proud member of the Heinz community.”
On Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., students, faculty, staff, and passing visitors who shared in our sorrow gathered together at the fence to reflect on the lives of Glasgow and Patra and on how this news affected us as individuals and a community.
“Their passing was an enormous loss for their families, for their friends, for their classmates and professors, and for all of the Carnegie Mellon community and beyond. Along with all of you I feel this loss very deeply,” stated President Suresh on Friday. He went on to acknowledge the strength and compassion that the Carnegie Mellon community has shown throughout this time.
Casalegno spoke to the demonstration of care and support she has witnessed from members of the Carnegie Mellon community: “I have been with some of you and with the families and students, faculty, and staff who are mourning this loss deeply. I have seen this support manifest itself in many ways.” One example that Casalegno noted was the “simple but profound expression of compassion” of painting The Fence Thursday night.
Casalegno encouraged students to seek their own method of coping, including talking to counselors, turning to religion, exercising, taking long walks, or simply finding a quiet reflective space. She also emphasized the importance of seeking out people to lean on during this time, as well as the importance of being available for others.
“One of the hallmarks of Carnegie Mellon University is that we are passionate about our work … but that passion does not have to mean that we work at the expense of our own well-being,” Casalegno said. She stressed that we must look out for ourselves when we are struggling in order to slow down and reflect on our lives.
Provost Farnam Jahanian provides the same message as Casalegno on the importance of looking out for ourselves in an email sent to the Carnegie Mellon community the day prior. He states “We are all passionate about our work and our studies, and sometimes that passion pushes us onward, even when we need a break, or encounter unexpected challenges in our lives. We encourage you to stop and take some time for yourself, and to turn to faculty, staff, and one another when you need support. You are not alone.”
After the gathering, members of the community lingered on The Cut to be together, to share in an embrace with friends and strangers alike, and simply to be there for one another during this emotional time.
One student at the event, who chose to remain anonymous, states “let’s stay together and make each other strong ... I love this campus. I hope I can let it know somehow.”
Another student added “when going through a painful situation, one may feel like a burden ... so please, if you can, reach out!” The student further added “The few seconds it takes to say ‘what’s up’ or ‘how are you doing’ or ‘let’s hang out’ could mean the world to them...Please everyone, take care of yourselves. I love all of you!”
Though this news has sparked thoughtful conversations from members of the community, we should not forget the lives that Elliott Glasgow and Rajat Patra led prior to their passing.