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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cornell must do more to remember Res Club Fire

Members of our classes should remember the “Res Club Fire” that occurred in the early morning hours of April 5, 1967 in the Cornell Heights Residential Club (now Ecology House) and took the lives of nine Cornellians, including five senior and graduate women living on the second floor, nine students who were members of the first class of the experimental six-year Ph.D. program (“Phuds”) and John Finch, a professor of English who lived there as an advisor. Mr. Finch had indeed escaped the building, only to return to assist others and be overcome by the toxic smoke that was responsible for all the deaths. The fire, which included two subsequent fires at locations where Phud survivors were living (Watermargin Cooperative and an apartment in Collegetown), and an investigation that never identified the perpetrator of what was apparently arson were reviewed in a long New York Times article by N. R. Kleinfield on April 13, 2018. Partially motivated by this article, 13 survivors of the fire from the classes of 1967, 1969 and 1970, along with three relatives of one of the deceased students, met with Cornell President Martha Pollack and several members of her staff on Aug. 6, 2018 in Ithaca.