C.S. Department Reacts to Ge's Apparent Suicide

About 70 graduate students, professors and staff members gathered yesterday morning in grief and bewilderment over the apparent suicide of Hailei Ge, a first-year graduate student in Computer Science from Beijing.

Ge fell four stories from the Gordon Mckay Library in Pierce Hall on Oxford Street Wednesday afternoon and died at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center a few hours later.

The computer science division held an open meeting to discuss the tragedy, said H.T. Kung, McKay professor of electrical engineering and computer science and Ge's academic adviser.

At the meeting, people shared their shock over the tragedy.

"We're trying to help each other a little bit," Kung said.

People also talked about different aspects of Ge's life that affected his experience at Harvard.

"We had the students who interacted with him closely talk about what they knew to get their own reactions out and to try to think through what signs or signals might have indicated that something was wrong," said Paul C. Martin '51, dean of the division of applied sciences.

"There was a lot of discussion about Hail himself and what his situation might have been," Martin said.

Some of the students and Faculty at the meeting also discussed the academic pressures felt by graduate students, Martin said.

"We discussed what exactly were the options with respect to dropping courses," he said.

Participants also discussed what types of additional stresses might be placed on foreign students.

"We talked about how foreign students have to acclimate [to a new environment]," Martin said.

About one fourth of the students at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) are international students.

Last year, 24 percent of the students registered in the GSAS were foreign, and the percentage is even higher in the computer science department, according to Senior Associate Registrar Thurston Smith.

Of the 43 computer science graduate students, 17 are foreign.

People at the meeting also discussed current support systems and how to make students more aware of them.

"There are all sorts of support systems that people don't automatically think about," Martin said.

He cited the Bureau of Study Council as an example of a resource available to students and said that some other avenues for support were discussed.

"We talked about how we could make sure that upper-level graduate students have more interaction with first years," Martin said.

Ge's autopsy report has not been completed to date.

"There is good indication that it's a suicide," Kung said