Macalester grieves the loss of Kai Davis


The US and UN flag on Old Main Lawn at half-mast. Photo by Kori Suzuki ’21.

Please be advised: this editorial discusses the passing of Kai Davis. This loss is still new, and it has impacted all of us in different ways. This article contains mentions of suicide, and though it contains no graphic details, it may be upsetting for some readers. For a list of support resources on and off campus, please visit this page.

Macalester is in mourning. 

On Monday, President Suzanne Rivera announced the death of Kai Davis. Kai was a light in the community, a brilliant student and a beloved friend. A member of the class of 2021, Kai was also a French major, and a student of political science and philosophy. To those who knew him, his loss is impossible to quantify.

Monday evening, the college hosted a physically distanced gathering in Kai’s memory on Shaw Field. Students from across class years and majors attended, as well as members of the faculty and staff. Rivera and College Chaplain Kelly Stone spoke and encouraged attendees to gather in small groups to grieve together. 

At a school as small as Macalester, the pain of losing a member of the community is felt widely, among classmates, professors, peers and friends. Everyone will process this loss differently: turning to friends, diving into their routine, or stepping away from work and taking time to mourn privately. Whatever the grieving process is for you, we wish you peace and send our love to each and every one of you reading this. 

Some of the editors and staff writers of this paper knew Kai and are holding his memory, his friends and his family close to our hearts right now. Not only did some of us know him personally, but a number of us worked alongside him. During his first year at Macalester, Kai wrote several articles for The Mac Weekly, in partnership with some of the people writing this editorial. 

We also want to acknowledge that Kai’s loss will profoundly affect those of us who have been touched by suicide and those of us living with mental illness. This is a different kind of grief, but one that can be just as impactful to those experiencing it.

It is agonizing that, on top of everything, this tragedy occurs in a year that has been steeped in pain and loss across the world and on our campus.

Kai is the second member of his class to pass in less than a year’s time. He is the fifth Macalester student to die in six years and the third to die by suicide.

The gravity of this fact is something we at The Mac Weekly are only beginning to process. 

This is not normal. 

To our dismay, the way some members of our faculty, staff and administration continue to prioritize coursework, class and grades over all else normalizes losing students during the school year. It normalizes suicide, something that can bring back specific and intense trauma for members of our community. 

Routine can be grounding for some, but the ruthless refusal to pause, even in times of overwhelming grief, leaves many members of this community struggling to stay afloat. It sends a message, however implicit, that there is no time and space for mourning.

We know that our publication this week may contribute to this feeling for some. The Mac Weekly has elected to publish the stories we had already prepared for this Friday’s issue. They are articles you might see in our paper any other week — stories about this place we call home and the people we call family. 

We hope they can serve as a symbol of our community: of how every voice brings something individual and important to this campus.

But know that we are heartbroken, and we are grieving alongside you. We have questions, we’re angry and we don’t know how to proceed from here.

One thing is certain.

We carry so much love for you: the students, the alumni, the staff, the faculty, the neighbors and friends that make up our community. As you reach out to your loved ones, to your advisors and professors, know that you can contact us too. Every one of you is essential, and our community would not be the same without you. 

Hold each other close and care for yourselves however you need.

The Mac Weekly will release a more in-depth story remembering Kai Davis next week.

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