On Sunday night, Brazilian websites began posting the names, photos and bios of the more than 230 victims of that morning’s horrific nightclub fire in the southern city of Santa Maria. What stands out is that half of them were college students from the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria’s agronomy department. Among them: André Cadore Bosser, a forestry-engineering student; Benhur Retzlaff Rodrigues, a civil-engineering student; Susiele Cassol, just 19, a food-engineering student. Beautiful, bright kids. And, as it turns out, kids Brazil particularly needed.

(PHOTOS: Chaos Outside Brazil Nightclub Fire That Killed More than 200)

Any death in a senseless catastrophe like this is heartbreaking, and a college student’s life is certainly no more valuable than anyone else’s. But the mass demise of science scholars carries a potent symbolism for Brazil — especially for President Dilma Rousseff, who through her Science Without Borders program has made it…

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