9/12/15: A tragedy, and the aftermath

Luke Tang was a bright, young student of Harvard College, devoted to his faith and community. He expressed a passion for studying mathematics, physics, philosophy, literature, and religion. His unbridled optimism and enthusiasm lifted the spirits and minds of countless peers through his involvement in groups such as the Harvard Undergraduate Mathematics Association (HUMA). He lived in Lowell House. Whether we knew him intimately or merely in passing, Luke became a part of our lives. By sharing in this exciting yet stressful journey through college with us, Luke lived as any of us aspired to live: with a never-ending smile and a positive attitude. 

It was this mutual experience that made his recent death on September 12th, 2015 feel close. Too close. The student body responded in distress, reaching out for help and someone, somewhere to confide in. Many recall seeing Luke days, even hours before his passing. He was recounted to have eaten in the very same dining halls, attended the same classes, and been just as hopeful about the future. His sudden, jarring, and absolute absence from many of our lives has proven to be a sobering thought to stomach. Many took to writing eulogies on Facebook in order to pay tribute to his memory. Hundreds attended a memorial at Lowell House that very night to comfort those suffering from this tragedy. Counselors and therapists from UHS will be at Lowell House until Thursday every night to talk. From house masters to peer advisers, much of Harvard has stood in solidarity to assist the student body in enduring this dark and vulnerable time. 

At this time of writing, an entire day has passed since the news broke out.  Naturally, many are still in mourning. Some mourn what he could have been, and see his death as this world's major loss of someone with so much potential to change it for the better. Others remember him for his many words and actions that spoke loudest to them. No matter the method of coping with this news, all are undoubtedly in a state of crisis. Mortality is a harsh reality not frequently made salient to us on a daily basis. Yet when death does strike, especially at someone so close to us, it leaves many bewildered and frightened. We lapse into thinking purely in possibilities. Instead of accelerating our lives into the future, we are, for a moment, forced to stop and reevaluate what is meaningful in our lives before we return to the rhythm of everyday life. In that sense, Luke is still helping us now. Even in memory, his life and the values he stood for are still affecting us ever so powerfully. For us to take this tragedy, and use it to learn something about ourselves and the meaning that people have in our lives before moving on is, I would like to think, what Luke would have wanted. 

If you still feel affected by these recent events, you are not alone. Don't hesitate to reach out to any of your pillars of support, whether it be a friend or proctor. Other resources can be sought after in the following link:


There will be one or two counselors from Counseling and Mental Health Services at the Lowell JCR from now until Thursday 5 pm - 7pm this week. No appointment necessary. You don't have to talk for an hour and you do not have to be in crisis.

Feel free to reach out to your House SMHL's if you have any other questions as well. We want to help.

Vulnerability is not weakness but strength: the opportunity to learn and grow.


A fellow SMHL