If you want to paraphrase something, “It’s about the community, stupid.” It’s about the community and their willingness. They understood the importance; they understood that they could drop things or find the time. And there were a couple of people who literally it was their first month working at the University, and we had people who had been working at the University for over 30 years.
Fr. Jeffrey Baerwald:
You have to remain calm during this kind of event and help people, listen to them, be present to them, and not get carried away yourself. But I think the grace of God was there and really thank God that it all ultimately worked out well, that we didn’t lose anybody, and nobody seems to have any long-term side effects. What strikes me is that our University’s cura personalis—about attending to the individual—provided an automatic response of saying, “How can we help you?” That was of incredible value, to see that in action—this tremendous care for individuals. It never was about one individual’s response to this crisis; it was about this great sense of wanting to help, of service to the community, of wanting to contribute in any way. It’s a very strong reminder of what it means to be a community: that we go beyond the language, that we do what we say we’re going to do.
The compassion that people had for one another, and how people were so willing to serve was so refreshing. Our personal need to be there for one another helps to shape our identity. During this time, a lot of people put their curiosity aside, such as wanting to know, “How did it start? Who was the student?” Instead, people just focused on “How do we care for the community? How do we make the community whole? How do I serve?” So part of my takeaway from this situation is to not be afraid to call on people to help because people have a real need to make a positive difference in the world.
After about two weeks we stopped getting notifications of students being evaluated to rule out meningitis. I have to admit—and I told Jeanne Rosenberger this—any time I got a message that she wanted to talk to me, it was like, “Oh, no! I hope she’s not calling to let me know that we have another student with possible meningitis!”
One takeaway is the importance of an integrated command structure when dealing with an emergency. Having a group of people that are the policy experts and people that are the logistics and execution experts, working in tandem is critical. That was critical to the success. And the second thing: Never, ever, ever plan a Super Bowl on the same weekend as a meningitis outbreak.
Student Bradley Sheffield went home to Arizona to recover. He returned to campus at the end of March. “You don’t think something like this is going to happen to you,” he told the Mercury News. “It’s a miracle there’s not more damage—and a miracle that I recovered so fast.”
SCU opened up clinics for a second round of MenB vaccinations in early April—since the vaccine requires a second dose.
At the State of the University address on Feb. 17, the SCU Gospel Choir sang “Amazing Grace.” And President Engh concluded by saying, “I cannot name everyone who contributed to these massive undertakings. Many worked behind the scenes, but all of you demonstrated dedication to the University and, in particular, commitment to the welfare of our students. God bless you all for your contributions, and thank you again for your care. I am so very proud of you. You are the ‘amazing grace’ for Santa Clara!”
I took maybe three weeks off rowing. I would go to practice and sit in the launch and ride along. But I wasn’t cleared to row, mostly because of the spinal tap. With rowing, the team is like a family. Everybody wants everybody else to succeed.
“Misha is one of the toughest kids I’ve been around. He is one tough cookie.”
When you’re down for that long, there’s a period of time that it takes for you to get back to where you were. It impacted Misha’s performance a little bit. But I’ll say this: Misha is not big in stature, but he’s big in heart.
At the championships in Sacramento, we had a pretty wicked, fast, freshman eight. We were supposed to win one race, then we had some issues in the sprint and one of our guys caught a crab. We ended up second.
Men’s varsity rowing finished 21st in the country in 2016. Farwell says they have a good shot at breaking the top 20 next year. Practice starts mid-September.
Harold Gutmann is an award-winning writer and editor in the Office of Marketing and Communications. Eryn Olson ’16 and Steven Boyd Saum contributed to this story. We welcome your contributions as well—to add more voices to this oral history. Share them below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.