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Parallels - Mark's Journal
mhaithaca
mhaithaca
Parallels
As difficult as yesterday's memorial service was for me, I know it was much more difficult for a lot of others. I've still got quite a bit to process, and I want to do some deeper writing about it, but there are two (related) areas of focus for me at this point.

1) It's a tragic coincidence that my friend Rahadyan's younger brother Danny died in a tragic gorge swimming accident 25 years ago this summer, and my friend Gabriel's younger brother Nate died in a tragic gorge swimming accident this summer. Rahadyan came and spoke, quite movingly, at Nate's memorial yesterday.

2) It's painfully clear that this isn't a new problem. This summer's seemingly unusual spate of tragic gorge deaths is drawing new attention to a longstanding problem, one about which Nate's parents gave an impassioned plea yesterday that the University do something. They don't want their son to have to come back to campus in 25 years to speak at another student's memorial service.

This has to be, at its core, a problem of inadequate information. Generations of students have hiked and waded and swum in the gorges without any feel for how dangerous it can be. This is partly the general adolescent or twentysomething feeling of immortality and invincibility, of course, and that's nearly impossible to change, but I think we as a community are also failing to adequately inform. Would better signage help? Education tied to Cornell's required swim tests? Clearer communications to students at other times? I'm not sure, but I know we need to try something.

More later.
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Comments
polypolyglot From: polypolyglot Date: September 27th, 2011 06:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm in touch with half a dozen or so of Danny's Cornell friends. I am also cordial acquaintances, if not actually friends, of two Cornellians from Danny's graduating class who are correspondents at my former place of employment. I'll see if and how much of their time and resources they would like to devote to the various efforts.
adelais From: adelais Date: September 27th, 2011 02:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Honestly? The only way to keep the damn kids out of the damn gorge, as it were, would be to have campus police enforcing a "no swimming in the gorge, period" rule. You are not going to convince a 20-year-old who fancies him/herself a strong swimmer that they, too, can drown in water they could touch bottom in.
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: September 27th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

That's certainly one of the areas I want to explore. The trouble is, you can't just say "No swimming! We mean it!" without offering alternatives. Is there (enough) free swimming on campus? Is the indoor-only swimming on campus appealing enough? Are the outdoor pools and state park swimming areas accessible enough to students?

Are there no areas of the gorge, or times of year, where/when swimming is safe? Are there areas that they can say "OK, this is safe"? Areas that could be made safe with some effort, or with life guards?

Maybe it's safe except after lots of rain, which isn't at a particular or predictable time. Maybe a conscious "safe/unsafe" decision is needed on a regular basis for areas where swimming would be permitted.

Cornell has spent so much money to protect students who've chosen to die. Protecting those who have no interest in dying seems a no-brainer.
logan607 From: logan607 Date: September 28th, 2011 12:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry to read all this, Mark. It's rough, however you cut it.

I was just thinking the other day that I should work on my swimming ability considering how often I cruise.

Anywho, hope you're good...
triola From: triola Date: September 28th, 2011 11:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm sorry; that just sounds awful to have happened. (Bad grammar, but you get the idea...)

Cornell has required swimming tests? Is it because of the Gorge?
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