As president of WSU, I have been grieving with the WSU community the loss of two students killed in separate automobile accidents over the Thanksgiving break. Eighteen-year-old Christine Hunter died in a two-car collision on U.S. Highway 195 on Friday, Nov. 20. Morgan Cope, 20, died Sunday, Nov. 22, in a collision on state Highway 26.

Both Morgan and Christine were freshmen, active in their sororities and excellent students. They loved their experience at WSU and were already members of the Cougar family.

As a parent myself, I can think of no greater pain than that associated with the death of a child. We, of course, offer our sincere condolences to the families of Morgan and Christine. Last week, I attended a candlelight vigil and fundraiser organized by their fellow students. It was impressive and emotional to see the Greek community rally around their fallen sisters, but we need to do everything possible to assure these events do not occur again.

We are very concerned about the safety of all of our students, including those traveling by car to and from Pullman. Both Highway 26 and Highway 195 were constructed decades ago, when the overall population in the area as well as the student population at WSU was a fraction of what it is now. While there have been upgrades, additional work is needed.

We appreciate state investments that will make some new improvements to Highways 195 and 26 and encourage the Washington Department of Transportation to make these projects its highest priority as the construction schedule. We also support additional funding to further improve the overall safety of these highways.

The loss of young life is especially tragic. We support and encourage whatever actions necessary to reduce the risk to WSU students, and every other driver, on the routes to and from the Pullman campus. First and foremost, I encourage everyone to exercise extra caution in driving to and from Pullman on these dangerous roads.