By Gabby Guerard
On Sunday, October 20, the Springfield College community received a heartbreaking email from the Office of the President. First-year student Connor Neshe of Framingham, Mass. had passed away that morning.
In the evening, President Mary-Beth Cooper, Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Patrick Love, Dean of Students Sue Nowlan, counselors from the Counseling Center, and a large number of students gathered in Marsh Chapel. It was an emotional evening, as students shared stories about Neshe and leaned on one another during this challenging time.
Cooper addressed those who gathered, expressing her deep sorrow for the loss of Neshe, as well as encouraging the community to be there for each other:
“We are a special community who gathers together for many reasons. We come together in our classes to learn from our faculty and from our peers, we come together to compete as student athletes, to perform in student productions, to show our unique contributions, and to live the Springfield College mission of spirit, mind, and body in leadership to others,” Cooper said.
“Sadly, we came together on Sunday night to grieve our mutual loss of one of our own, Connor Neshe. Although I didn’t know Connor personally, I knew all about him. He was a Springfield College student living his best life in the spirit of Humanics. As we gathered, some shared that Connor was kind, that he often expressed his excitement to be a part of this community and that he was generous in spirit. Yes, he was a Springfield College student. He will always be a part of us and live on in the rich tapestry of this community.
“I grieve for his parents. And I asked our community on Sunday night to take good care of each other during this period of raw vulnerability. It’s also important to reach out to loved ones and let them how much they mean to you. We are all feeling a wide range of emotions from sadness to confusion to despair. But in this time of deep sadness, let’s continue to gather together to not only share our grief, but to hold each other up. Connor Neshe was one of us and we are all Springfield College. One incredibly special community comprised of the most caring people I have ever known.”
Neshe played an intricate role in the Springfield College community, as many voiced how he was always there for his peers and checked on those around him.
He was also involved in the College athletically as a member of the men’s tennis team. On Monday, October 21, men’s tennis head coach Mike Louis expressed the positive impact Neshe has had on the team.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Connor’s parents and family during this heartbreaking time,” he said. “From the moment we started recruiting him, it was clear that Connor was a very special young man. In the short time he spent with us on Alden Street, he left a lasting impact on our tennis programs. Our hearts are heavy and we will always carry with us the memories we made with Connor.”
There have been numerous actions on campus to honor Neshe, including but not limited to: the Fellowship of Christian Athletes inviting members of the community to pray in the Meditation Room on Monday, both the men’s and women’s soccer teams wearing black armbands during their games Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, and all home games this week will begin with a moment of silence in remembrance of Neshe.
There is still a lot unknown about the unexpected tragedy, and at this time, Cooper has shared all of the available information. She recognizes how this has been a very challenging time for the entire community, especially given the lack of answers to the many questions that have arisen. In a statement released Tuesday evening, Cooper said:
“Over the past few days, I have observed with admiration and pride – our students, faculty and staff – our Springfield College community – come together in this terrible time of loss with the passing of Connor Neshe.
“The pain and grieving that we are all feeling will certainly impact our work, our studies and our personal lives for some time. You can be assured opportunities to gather as a community to remember Connor and the offer of support will continue.
“At this time, I have shared with the Springfield College community all the information that is available. I understand that there is some speculation as to the cause of Connor’s passing and not having that information can be confusing and troubling. I can add to the information shared to date that the City of Springfield Police Department has recently confirmed there is no criminal investigation necessary or underway.
“As a community, I know I can count on you to respect the privacy of Connor’s family, friends and teammates. They need our support, please continue to keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”
Connor Neshe’s service will be held as follows:
Monday, November 4, 2019 at 1:30 p.m.
First Parish In Framingham Unitarian Universalist
24 Vernon Street, Framingham, Mass. 01701
Parking is available at Village Hall (across the green) or behind the Plymouth Church at 87 Edgell Road (right across the street) or along Grove Street.
All are welcome.
Information regarding travel plans for students will be announced as soon as it becomes available.
The Student will continue providing updates as soon as they become available. Support services and the Counseling Center are available to all members of the Springfield College community. The Counseling Center is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and may be reached via phone at 413-748-3345 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, The Student will publish a separate story focused entirely on Connor’s life and his impact within the Springfield College community next week. The Student recognizes how challenging this time is for the entire community, particularly for those who knew Connor best. Our No. 1 priority is respecting the privacy of these individuals, and providing them with the time to process, grieve, and feel — we are all human. Sharing Connor’s unique story is a priority, and The Student will honor it authentically in the near future, but we also feel it is equally important to respect the privacy and needs of those grieving at this time.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College Athletics