Tuesday, we gathered in the chapel to remember our student Ahmednur Ali, who was tragically killed on Monday night as he was leaving the Brian Coyle Center. Later in the afternoon, we held a special community time during which we shared information with faculty, staff and students about the incident and the ongoing investigation. We heard from the Somali community police liaison, Ahmed Hassan, and Augsburg director of public safety, John Pack. We continue to express our deep sympathy to the Ali family and friends and to attend to the needs of the Augsburg community.
I want to reiterate the many resources that are available to all of you on campus: Center for Counseling and Health Promotion, Campus Ministry, student activities and services staff, residence life staff–any of us who can be a conversation partner. Please take advantage of these services.
We cannot minimize the impact this kind of violent event has on a college community and, for that reason, we are responding proactively in several ways. First, we have been especially vigilant about our students who have internships or service learning or volunteer opportunities out in the neighborhood–we know folks may be frightened and we want to be sure that all students know that they have permission “not” to participate now and in the future–even as we encourage the ongoing support that our presence and service in the community means to all of our neighbors. Second, the Faculty Senate will have a conversation this week about the role of community engagement in our curriculum, as we remain sensitive to both the issues that it can raise around safety and liability and the central place it has in our educating students. Third, we are participating with the community in conversations about how to ensure the safety of our entire neighborhood. Specifically, along with Pillsbury United Communities, Confederation of Somali Organizations, and the Oromo Community, we are co-hosting a Community Meeting at 12 noon on Thursday, September 25 at the Brian Coyle Center to address specific community concerns in the Currie Park/Brian Coyle Center area. Those of you who are interested are invited to join me and other members of the administration at this meeting today. Fourth, in the near future, we will provide information about how contributions may be made to a special scholarship fund in honor of Ahmednur. The Pillsbury United Communities has established a fund to help Ahmednur’s family with funeral expenses. If you would like to contribute, you can send donations to Jennifer Blevins, Brian Coyle Center director, at 420 15th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN, 55454. Make checks payable to “PUC – Ahmednur Ali Funeral Fund.”
As we continue to deal with these difficult last few days, I want to remind all of us that part of our life in this urban setting, where we have been for 140 years, is to navigate the terrible messiness of situations like this even as we honor how our presence and role in this neighborhood and beyond are part of our mission and character as a college. Most of us are here because of where we’re located, and yet we have incidents like this that hit too close to home and are frightening for all of us. This terrible tragedy wounds us even more profoundly because it hits at the heart of Augsburg’s identity as a college of the church in the city. I encourage all of you to remember that, at the time of his untimely death, Ahmednur was living this mission.
Paul C. Pribbenow