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Heartbreak and Hope

Friends and colleagues –

Tom Waters, a doctoral student in the political science department, passed away on April 4th from COVID-19. Tom was a long-time leader in the New York tenant movement. He worked at the Community Service Society and served on the board of Tenants & Neighbors.

I met Tom a number of times in the political science lounge on the 5th floor when I was coming or going from a union meeting. You can tell something about a person from the work they choose to do and the way they choose to do it-but their countenance can tell as much or more: Tom was good, a good person, easy to smile, filled with care.

We must all confront death, each one of us. But we also know-and Tom knew well from his work-that death too often comes too early to the vulnerable.

Let us mourn together, from this imposed distance, the loss of a colleague who committed his earthy time and energy to make life more livable for the poor and working class. And then, in a spirit commensurate with who Tom was and the work that he did, let us commit and recommit ourselves to building a better and more just world-not a world without death, but one where untimely, heartbreaking deaths are not flung upon us by those who claim to lead our society.

Rest in peace, Tom, and rest in power.

Luke Elliott-Negri

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