Editorial: A community of caring
The university responds to student’s disappearance
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 02:09
The UNH community was struck with a troubling piece of news last week when the UNH Police Department asked for help in locating a missing student, Jonathan Zygmont. Students, friends and community members spread the word immediately, sharing the photo of Zygmont’s smiling face on Facebook and Twitter, with the story spreading nationally not long after the news broke.
Despite the fact that Zygmont is a first-year student who recently arrived to Durham and likely knows only a small proportion of the UNH student body, students shared messages of hope, prayers and wellwishes on social media sites for the young student whose safety police feared for.
In times of concern, it is remarkable to see a student body of over 12,000 undergraduate students come together for the good of one individual. While it is a reflection of the sense of the community that develops in our small college town, it is also an unfortuante reminder of a similar situation that UNH experienced just under a year ago.
It was on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, that Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott was last seen. After following leads and reasonable evidence, police searched the water off of Portsmouth. The case quickly went from a search for a missing student to a recovery of Marriott’s body.
Zygmont’s disappearance and search has been all too reminiscent of last year’s, with police searching for him in Portsmouth, where he was last seen a week ago. To think that the university is facing a similarly concerning situation within the span of a year is a painful reality.
However, hope remains for a safe return of Zygmont, both for his family in Windham and his new community in Durham. On Friday, police suspended the active search for the 19-year-old, which had been ongoing in the Prescott Park area. Zygmont’s mother, Lynne Zygmont Clay, said that he is an “experienced outdoorsman” and is possibly hiking or camping without being aware of the active search for him.
Police have not given up on Zygmont, as they are reported to be continuing with leads. As contradictory as it seems, a suspension of the search is an indication of hope, signifying that Zygmont is believed to be well. UNH Police Chief Paul Dean affirmed this idea in a statement, saying that Zygmont could have traveled to western areas of the U.S., a desire that he had previously expressed.
But it is at times like this – times of hope and optimism – that the positives in our community should be highlighted. The thousands of students on this campus – busy with class, work, organizations, sports and more – could easily bypass this piece of information, but most of them did not. As a community, we should care about each other, but are not obligated to do so. However, UNH students have shown that they care; Marriott was remembered last fall at a vigil attended by hundreds who never had a chance to meet the vibrant young woman. And almost a year later, she has not been forgotten, as the trial of her alleged murderer is to be held in the spring.
Likewise, Zygmont should not be forgotten about while police follow leads to a happy resolution, giving him the opportunity to rejoin his community.