January 30, 2023 at 3:08 PM

For a grieving community

Dear CSSW Community,

Tyre Nichols was a 29-year-old beloved son, father, friend, and so much more. Friends and family described him as joyful and creative. He was a brilliant photographer who shared his stunningly beautiful photos through his website, inviting us all to “welcome the world through [his] eyes.” He was murdered earlier this month on his way home from photographing a sunset.

We do not need footage of his murder to know that he deserved to grow old. Nonetheless, for those who watched, the footage confirms that Mr. Nichols’s killing, at the hands of police officers, was heartless and unjustified. Social workers are trained to understand systems and how we, as individuals, operate within those systems. As many have argued over the last couple of days, if we ignore the systemic issues within law enforcement, we will miss the mark every time. And focusing too heavily on the individual offenders can become a distraction from the broader issues at hand. We must be able to do both: hold individual police officers who commit such heinous crimes accountable, while also being critical of the systems within which they work. That’s the only way transformative change can occur.

We recognize that sadness and despair may be unavoidable at this point. There are resources listed below for those who would like to take advantage of them. Let’s find purpose in the beautiful words of RowVaughn Wells, the mother of Tyre Nichols: “My son will bring good out of all of this, because he was a beautiful soul.” May it be so.

In community,

Melissa Begg

Dean & Professor

Karma Lowe

Senior Associate Dean for DEI, Enrollment, & Community Engagement

Resources for Students

Please reach out to our Office of Advising as a first resource for support when you need it. Additionally, other campus resources are available, including:


Mental health support for students through Counseling and Psychological Services (https://health.columbia.edu/content/counseling-and-psychological-services) .


Religious Life for spiritual advising.

Resources for Employees


The University offers resources through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which can help support any Columbia employee. For example, EAP resources include the CareNow Center, a hotline for confidential counseling at 1-844-636-1260 (TTY: 711).