Asha Sumroy is one of the JC's regular student bloggers for 2017-18. She is studying at Durham University.
I’m often torn when trying to decide exactly what to write about for these blogs - it’s hard to write whole weeks into words.
In this last week, the University College community, Durham University and so many others, have been devastated by a tragic and, for many I’m sure, an indescribable loss.
A first year student died after she became trapped and crushed underneath a barrier in a queue for a popular Durham nightclub. My chest has been heavy with conflict as to whether it’s my place at all to speak about the loss of someone who I had the pleasure of interacting with, yet only a small number of times. But, it would be entirely false to write a blog about these weeks that doesn’t speak honestly about this truly tragic loss and how the response of the College and wider community has moved me.
The 700 undergraduates of University College have held each other up in the face of huge shock and huge loss. This grief is undeniably far closer to some than most, yet I have been astounded by the collective response - from staff and students dropping everything to provide welfare support to anyone who feels in need, to simple and genuine compassion in the silent eye contact we have shared with each other.
As a Jew, I have grown up in a tradition of intentionally collective mourning. The unconditional love and the unlimited, selfless support found in a shivah house (a family home that is “open” to visitors for the seven-day period of mourning prayers following the death of a loved-one) is something I, perhaps naively, thought was unique to this inherently collective religion. Yet this exact environment is what has been created in our second home in Durham castle.
Recognising what I believe to be, in many ways, a truly holy community at university is definitely not something I ever expected. But it’s brought me back to what is at the root of my personal faith and religion - the vitality of committing to, and trusting in, something that is bigger than just yourself. And as I’ve just typed that now, I’ve actually had to stop for a second at remembering the translation of the Latin motto of University College. Non nobis solum - not for ourselves alone. The weight of this connection, I feel, needs no explanation.
It has been an extremely sad week and, personally, the shock of this tragedy will stay with me for a long, long time. I have also been shown the ultimate nature of the community that continues to be created and lived by students at this college. I feel honoured to belong to it and a responsibility to maintain it, so that we can all continue to put our faith and trust in each other, both in times of sadness and those of great happiness - may we all share such happiness soon.