By Joe Arruda
What a year it has been.
I thought last October that we had experienced the longest week there ever could have been, but boy, how I was wrong.
When we lost Connor Neshe on that Saturday, Oct. 20 of last year, the campus shut down. I’d never seen anything like it. From the gloomy, eerie weather that highlighted the bald trees and cool air, to the expression on every face you passed, everyone was grieving. The moments of silence that followed, preceding all athletic events, ambiguously drained the mood and sparked a time to reflect on the fragility of life.
Every time I saw an ambulance or a police car or received a series of unexpected text messages, I feared for the worst.
Who knew that we would be in a place, just a year later, where you can’t even see the expression on someone’s face as you cross paths?
Who knew that there wouldn’t be any athletic events to bring the campus community together?
Who knew that a medical condition would claim the life of a young soul, who had spent not even two months in college, in his sleep?
Connor was a college athlete; he was kind and he was loving and he embodied the Springfield College Humanics philosophy to a T.
The misunderstanding in communication that followed his passing sparked what I felt was a revolution on this campus. Everyone was upset, angry and lost – all feelings that come along with grief.
Who knew that less than a year later, cities across the country would be experiencing a revolution of their own? That unarmed human beings would be on video getting choked out by police officers because, in part, of the color of their skin?
The “I Wonder Why?” display up in the Union allowed for students to bring campus issues to light, but was swiftly taken down soon after.
It did its job, though. Man, did it do its job.
That, as a sophomore, was the first time I had seen people speaking up on this campus. I had no idea what to expect.
Who knew that a student-organized march would be taking place a year later?
When the Springfield men’s tennis team was asked the question early last fall, “Why do you do what you do?” Connor’s response was, “To wake up better than the day before.”
The untimely death of 18 year-old Connor Neshe was a tragic loss for the Springfield College community, for his community in Framingham, Mass. and anywhere he made his presence known with his ambition, his positive and unending support for others, his work ethic and the love and effort that he put into everything he did.
Even with everything that the past year has thrown at us, we cannot forget what motivated Connor Neshe.
To simply strive to be better.
Photos Courtesy of Joe Arruda and Dana Neshe