November 27, 2023

Dear Trinity College Community,

We remain shocked and saddened by the news this weekend of the shooting in Burlington, Vermont, of three students of Palestinian descent, including our own Tahseen Aliahmad ’26. This morning, we learned that a suspect has been arrested.

Several community members, including Student Life staff, professors, and classmates, have been able to be with Tahseen in Vermont or have been directly in touch. At this moment, our priority is Tahseen’s safety and full recovery and his ability to see his family. The Student Life staff have shared resources to support our community and are talking with Tahseen about how we can assist his family, who live in the West Bank, while they care for him from such a great distance. Additionally, we are grateful to alumni and friends who have reached out generously with offers of support for Tahseen and his family.

After we wrote to the campus community on Sunday, we learned that the families of the three students have asked that no one make donations to fundraisers unless specifically organized by them. At this time, we ask that our community provide Tahseen and his family the privacy they need to get through this challenging situation. As would be expected, these are circumstances that require care, thoughtfulness, and respect from our entire community.

Words cannot express how disturbing this news has been. Dean of Student Life Jody Goodman and Chaplain Marcus Halley and their colleagues continue to support our students and to provide them resources to help them process this horrific moment, gather as a community, and feel safe on our campus. As Dean Goodman reminded students earlier today, resources—including the Counseling and Wellness Center, Spiritual and Religious Life, and Campus Safety—are available and ready to help. Dean Goodman also shared with students that an informal gathering to provide help and comfort for our community will be held in the Chapel today from noon to 1:00 p.m.

While news from Israel and Gaza continues to shake the world, our community is grappling with a range of emotions—anger, grief, uncertainty, and fear, to name a few. We fully acknowledge that some may feel anxiety about being attacked in the face of rising anti-Palestinian, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic rhetoric, and some may feel intense sadness from devastating accounts of war. We will continue to hold the previously planned vigil for all the lives lost; it will take place on Wednesday, November 29, at 4:45 p.m. This vigil takes on a new meaning for our community as a show of support for Tahseen and his friends.

While the situation in Burlington continues to be investigated, I ask that we all recognize that hate-motivated violence is wrong. It is our duty to continue to respect one another, to engage in civil discourse and thoughtful dialogue, to seek peaceful resolutions when they can be reached, and to use what we learn from this moment to shape our world and our interactions with others.

May each of us commit to sharing kindness and to being a beacon of light and hope.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience