Remembering Morris on the second anniversary of her death

Matthew Steinberg, Features Editor

Two years ago, Hannah Morris was pronounced dead at the Meadville Medical Center after being struck by a car near Odd Fellows Hall on North Main Street at approximately 10:45 p.m on Oct. 29, 2015.

In a previous issue published by The Campus, Jocelyn Serafin, ’17, said  “ [the night] was so dark that I couldn’t see her [Morris’] face.”

That night is one that many members of the community have not forgotten.

“I remember it very well,” Allegheny College President James Mullen said. “I think that when something this tragic happens it’s always a part of the fabric of the community. It was extremely painful for all of us. There was an initial shock … [that] someone that young should be lost to us instantaneously, and then there was a tremendous sadness, and then a coming together to share in the sadness.”

Mullen described how Allegheny students, staff and administrators came together in response to her death.

“There’s a lot of community support at times like that,” Chaplain and Professor of Religious Studies Jane Ellen Nickell said. “That’s one of the things Allegheny does really well is support each other through something like this.”

Nickell was called the night of Morris’ death and later informed her family and close friends of the accident. She then led the memorial service, held in Ford Memorial Chapel, on Nov. 14, 2015. Many members of the Allegheny community attended to celebrate Morris’ life and give personal remarks.

“She loved to bake, made butterfly origami and gave out cupcakes in the Campus Center during exam time,” Nickell said.

Morris’ family also sent remarks to be read at the service.

“Remembering Hannah must involve her love of books,” James Robert Morris said. “Some book lovers clearly love the physicality of books. This was not Hannah, who only had thoughts for the words. Her books were scattered, torn, water damaged — they went wherever she did, and nothing would distract her from them.”

Mullen was one of many members of the community who attended the service, and described his reaction after hearing remarks from Nickell and Morris’ family.

“I remember the service, it was very moving,” Mullen said. “It was the first opportunity for people to say, ‘I’m going to remember this extraordinary young person as my friend.’”

In his remarks, Morris’ father described her as naturally curious about all subjects.

Mullen and Nickell detailed many additional ways Morris is remembered on Allegheny’s campus. She was passionate about domestic violence awareness, studied Neuroscience and enjoyed gaming in her free time.

“She had a natural born ‘I want to learn this’ attitude about many things,” James’ remarks said.

Since her passing, the college has taken steps to improve pedestrian safety on North Main Street. Allegheny Student Government President Mark MacStudy, ’17, and Ali Awadi, director of public safety, have been working to improve lighting on all roads that run through campus.

In the beginning of the fall semester of 2017, Awadi visited ASG to give updates on the progress made with the improvement of lighting around campus.

“We really saw the campus as a whole highlight public safety in light of this, and we’ve made progress so far on advanced lighting on North Main, and now it’s spreading across campus as well,” MacStudy said. “I know Awadi has said there’s lights going up on Limber, Park Ave, and a couple other streets.”

Mullen expressed his appreciation for the efforts put in by public safety over the last two years.

“There’s been some extraordinary work done there, the lighting has been improved and we’re very grateful to everyone who helped make that happen,” Mullen said. “When I walk in the evenings now, it is a huge improvement.”

As the Allegheny community does what it can to better pedestrian safety for the future, Morris will live on and be remembered as a student and a friend.

“There’s no way to find words to express the hurt to the community, but we do come together and we stand with each other and we support each other and we love each other,” Mullen said.