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I'd planned to write about the rebirth of "Ground Zero" in New York City, where I spent time because I stayed (by chance) in a hotel overlooking the site while reporting the cover story in this issue of Colby. But then the harshest of realities intervened. Dawn Rossignol '04 was abducted and murdered near the Colby campus Sept. 16. The attacks of September 11, a tragedy that had become part of the new reality of our time, had been augmented by one that, in the community that emanates from Mayflower Hill, still is beyond comprehension.
This is not supposed to happen, not to a young woman full of promise, whose life had been marked by achievement in academics and kindness to others. It is not supposed to happen at Colby, where the pastoral setting and collegiate atmosphere combine to create what seems like some sort of academic idyll.
But there is no barrier-geographic or otherwise-that is completely impervious to the world's ugliness. In this case, the worst the world has to offer intruded in a horrible way.
Of course, the tragedy visited upon Dawn and her family is unknowable to most of us. The changes in our lives caused by this attack pale in comparison to the loss Dawn's family has experienced and will always feel. No nighttime escort, no security guards or police, no punishment for the perpetrator of this act will make them whole.
In a lesser way, the same is true of the Colby community. The week between Dawn's abduction and death and the arrest of the man allegedly responsible was marked by disbelief, sadness and worry. Messages from President William "Bro" Adams and other administrators were about security and safety, police and the press, anguish and anxiety. The week culminated in a press conference outside the trophy room in the Harold Alfond Athletic Center. The case had been solved, police said. The man responsible, a career criminal recently released from a Utah prison, was in jail. "This is a random act of violence," said State Police Lt. Timothy Doyle.
At the press conference, Adams said additional security precautions taken after Dawn's disappearance would remain in place for the foreseeable future. Students were urged to avoid unnecessary risks. And then Adams said something that applied to these shocking days of September, and September of two years ago, when our world was violently and irrevocably reordered.
"A great deal has changed for this place in the last week," Adams said somberly.
And like any loss of innocence, there is no going back. As I write this, I see an e-mail from the president to the Colby community. In the subject line is a single word: coping.
At this point, it seems that's all any of us can do.
Gerry Boyle '78
The Word on Posse
Colby is enrolling top students from New York City,
who arrive as Colby's Posse. Read all about them,
and the fast-growing Posse program.
Alumni Travel Programs, which include faculty experts
on countries and cultures, are more popular than ever.
The Great Mudpuppy Escape
The origin of unusually large salamanders in the
Belgrade Lakes? A Colby professor was the culprit.
Paul L. Coffey '98 and Joshua Scharback '98 discovered
theater at Colby. They've never looked back.
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