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A Reflection on Orlando from President Walter Harrison


Posted 06/14/2016
Posted by Meagan Fazio


A Reflection on Orlando for the University of Hartford

I was away on business Sunday morning when I first heard of the horrible tragedy perpetrated by a lone gunman in Orlando. It seemed so unspeakably senseless that I could not understand it. I was literally numb with grief and shock, an emotion I have felt far too frequently in recent years when confronted by acts of hate and fear.

It wasn’t until I was traveling home on Monday that I heard the details that helped me piece together the horrible events that happened in the Pulse nightclub. What came to mind was Robert Frost’s poem, “Fire and Ice,” which I first learned in the Introduction to American Literature class I took during my sophomore year in college, the course that convinced me to find important clues to life through the study of literature:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

What does this tragedy mean for those of us who live, work, and study at the University of Hartford? Again I look for my clue from literature, in this case lines from the Irish poet William Butler Yates’s poem “The Second Coming,” a poem I learned in my first college English class. Here Yates, confronted by the violence of his early twentieth century world, writes:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
are full of passionate intensity.

In the face of such hateful homophobia and a senseless reaction to the complexity of the world, we at the University must come together as thousands of people did last evening in Orlando and at Stonewall Inn in Manhattan and, both figuratively and metaphorically, hug each other. We must take solace and pride in discovering that what unites us is greater than what divides us, and that together we can find a way to respond to violence by working together to make this a better world. If you’d like to speak with someone about this, professionals are available on campus. Please call the Dean of Students office at 860-768-4285.

We should all take pride that at the University of Hartford we have created a space to make this togetherness happen. We are far from perfect, but in coming together to comfort others, to greet them with the love and understanding of a hug, we can make a sometimes destructive and hateful world better.

Walter Harrison
President