On a hill in Granville, about 40 minutes from Gambier, lies Denison University. For most on the Kenyon hill, Denison is mainly known as the despised athletic rival, the one team we always strive to beat in every sport, especially swimming.
This week, though, you should see them as kin. Last weekend, a Denison senior named David Hallman III was found dead from exposure and hypothermia not far from campus, hours after being last seen leaving a bar following a night out.
Here at Kenyon we are not immune to this type of tragedy. In 2005, Colin Boyarski ’08 went out to party. He had been drinking, it was cold out, and his friends assumed that he had gotten home. He was found the next morning, dead, in a snowy field.
This is the kind of event that shakes a community like ours — or like Denison’s — to its very core. The lives we live at a place like this are so seemingly sheltered that we joke about the Kenyon bubble. And while we may have experienced a similar tragedy in the past, that does not mean we never will again. We’re not protected from disaster, and when one strikes nearby it reminds us of our own mortality. We reach out to one another as we grieve, and as a result reinforce the bonds and relationships that form our community.
When real grief strikes nearby, especially familiar grief, it snakes its way through paths and dorm hallways until we all feel its presence. And feel it we should: when some in our community are hurting, it is our duty to empathize with them.
But this pain extends beyond our hilltop, and it will be especially pronounced this week, as Denison and Kenyon meet in the pool at the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) swimming and diving championships.
This is usually the event at which the two teams are most at odds. This year, that competition was heightened by the NCAC’s decision to host the meet at Denison’s newly-built natatorium. But Hallman was a former swimmer, and now this contest seems likely to be more somber.
These events should serve as a reminder to us all that we do not live in a bubble, despire our jokes about our isolation.
More importantly, though: this week, you should lend some of your thoughts to Denison’s students, faculty and staff. We should stand with them as if they were our own peers and colleagues. We have been where they are now, and that means more than athletic rivalry ever will.
David McCabe is a senior political science major from New York, NY. He is one of the editors-in-chief of the Collegian. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lauren Toole is a senior English major from Belmont, NC. She is one of the editors-in-chief of the Collegian. She can be contacted at email@example.com
Nina Zimmerman is a senior American studies and modern languages major from Northbrook, Ill. She is one of the sports editors of the Collegian. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.