Harvard University provided Sinedu Tadesse '96 with inadequate advising and medical support, Melanie Thernstrom '87 alleges in her new book about the 1995 Dunster House murder-suicide, Halfway Heaven, which hit bookstores in late August.
Thernstrom, a former English department Faculty member and Adams House non-resident tutor, alleges that the University also attempted to whitewash the tragedy, "to protect and promote its distinguished reputation at the cost of its own student body."
Tadesse stabbed and killed her sleeping roommate, Trang P. Ho '96, in their Dunster House suite on May 28, 1995, shortly before hanging herself in their bathroom.
"After the Dunster House deaths, the news office could have adopted the line that every institution has troubled students and Harvard is, alas, no exception, instead they chose to propagate the idea that the student didn't appear to have any troubles and the tragedy had, therefore, no explanation," Thernstrom says in the book, which is an expansion of an earlier article she published in The New Yorker last June.
Thernstrom further alleges that the University tightly controlled information and interviews through its news office to ensure this position went unchallenged.