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.