May 2, 2017
Dear UT Community:
As we try to understand yesterday’s tragic events, we mourn the death of a young, first-year UT student, Harrison Brown. I met with his mother Lori and brother John this morning, and they spoke to me of their beloved Harrison.
They told me about Harrison’s passion for music and how he loved being a Longhorn. They told me that he had an incredible voice, and after speaking with housing staff, I learned that many in Jester East got to know him by hearing his music from a distance, then stopping to listen. Harrison sang everywhere — in stairwells, bedrooms and hallways. His voice was magical, and his gifts and talents touched students throughout campus.
Just last week, a fellow Jester East resident tweeted, “There is a guy that always sings U smile … when I pass by & it makes me smile.” That was Harrison Brown.
The Browns have lost a brother and a son, and our entire community will be there to support them. We will honor Harrison and all of the victims of the attack by gathering on the Main Mall on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Earlier today, I met with student leaders to discuss ways that our community can come together during this difficult time. We talked about safety, communication and community among other significant topics.
Also, as I walk around campus today, I am speaking with students to listen to their individual concerns. I want to hear how you feel. I want to see your faces. And I want to better understand the impact of this tragic event, and to listen to the positive steps that you believe we can take to make improvements.
The events of the past day are a reminder of how diligent we must be in communicating accurate information in the age of social media. We were too slow to let the entire campus know about the stabbings after they happened. And UT Police were too quick to report there was no threat west of campus because, as we learned later that evening, an incident had taken place.
Students rely on us to make decisions for their safety and well-being, and we need to do better. We will do better.
A day ago, we lost Harrison Brown. The sadness and pain that comes with the death of this young student is immeasurable, and it will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Now is a time to grieve for Harrison, for his parents, family and friends. But it is not a time to give in to divisiveness, or to give up on the dream of this university.
We are Longhorns because we learn. We are Longhorns because we teach. We are Longhorns because we discover. And we are Longhorns because we change the world. And we are going to keep doing that. In this way, we can honor the memory of Harrison Brown and other Longhorns we have lost.
Gregory L. Fenves
The university community will honor Harrison Brown and all of the victims of the May 1 attack by gathering on the Main Mall on Wednesday evening.
Wednesday, May 3 at 7:00pm to 8:00pm
Main Building (MAI), South Mall
110 Inner Campus Dr
Austin, Texas 78705