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FROM THE EDITOR
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Reed Mag Winter 2008

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Editor
Mitchell Hartman

Associate Editor
Aimée Sisco

Class Notes &
copy editor

Laurie Lindquist

Production Manager
Amy H. Taylor

Alumni News Editor
Robin Tovey '97

Development news editor
Matt Kelly

Graphic Designer
Chris Michel

Web Designer
Raymond Rodriguez

 

FROM THE PRESIDENT

Colin Diver

Late on the evening of Saturday, April 5, Reed freshman Alejandro Lluch was found dead in his dormitory room, the victim of an accidental heroin overdose.

In the immediate aftermath, the campus community struggled to come to terms with its shock and grief. Student services staff set up drop-in centers around campus for grieving students. The counseling center extended its hours and provided an on-call counselor around-the-clock. We welcomed Alex’s parents, Carlos Lluch and Louisa Callery, to campus for two painful and moving days of conversations and reminiscences. A few days later, over 100 students, faculty, and staff members gathered for a memorial tribute. Many spoke of Alex’s love of history, music, map-making, story-telling, and social justice. And a week later, his friends organized an evening celebration of his life, featuring his favorite foods and music.

The circumstances of Alex’s death demand that we candidly confront how the scourge of drugs affects our community. When I spoke to Carlos Lluch a few hours after his son’s death, he made it clear that he wanted the cause of death to be publicized. Alex’s parents explained their motivation later in a letter to their local newspaper, the Malibu Times: “We feel strongly that Alex’s death from an accidental heroin overdose should serve as a wake up call. We truly hope Alex’s death will spark change that will save others and that it will inspire all of us who are complicit in either ignorance or denial or hopelessness to take a stand, to stare addiction in the face and seek help. Be it in Malibu or Reed College or any of the countless communities where drug and alcohol use among young adults is considered a rite of passage, we need to take a stand. It is not normal; it is deadly…Talk to your sons and daughters; take on your friends and don’t let them get away with it; seek help for those who need it. Addiction cannot be fought alone. The foe, as Alex discovered, is too strong.”

I feel that those words are spoken directly to all of us at Reed College, and most especially to me as president. I had already initiated an across-the-board assessment of the college’s policies dealing with drugs and alcohol. Alex’s death only intensifies the urgency of that assessment. In the weeks since his death, we have begun the process of engaging the entire community in serious, sustained discussions about our mutual responsibilities—discussions that will doubtless continue next year and beyond. This is a community governed by honor, and honor right now demands honesty about what we believe, humility about what we know and don’t know, compassion for every person struggling with substance abuse, and firmness to do what must be done to support the academic mission of this college and protect the health and safety of every one of its members. I cannot at this moment predict precisely the outcome of this process, but I am certain that it will strengthen Reed College.

If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions please do not hesitate to call my office at 503/777-7500 or to email me at presidentsoffice@reed.edu.

Colin Diver signature
—Colin S. Diver


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