CU Boulder Student's Death Casts a Pall on Start of New School Year

Tragedy struck the University of Colorado Boulder community on just the second day of the new school year: A male student was found dead in Stearns West, a dorm that's part of the large and iconic Williams Village complex.

Although there's no indication that a crime led to the student's passing, little information has been released about him thus far. But that hasn't prevented an outpouring of shock and grief among members of the campus community.

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The news was sent out to students via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and text by Christina Gonzales, Dean of Students and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. Her release reads:
Dear CU-Boulder students, faculty and staff:

I regret to inform you today of the passing of a member of our student community. Shortly before 2 p.m. today, CU Police received a call about an unresponsive male student in the Stearns West residence hall. Paramedics came to his room and later determined he had passed away.

The name of our student cannot be released until his family is notified. CU Police and the Boulder County Coroner's Office are investigating this tragedy. Early indications show no signs of foul play.

This is certainly a difficult and challenging start to our school year. The loss of any member of our community is a terrible blow to all of us. Please know that our thoughts are with the family and friends of our student.

Also, please be advised that the CU Office of Victim Assistance and CU Counseling & Psychological Services are available, and that you can reach them at the numbers and web addresses below:

Office of Victim Assistance 303-492-8855

Counseling & Psychological Services 303-492-6766


Christina M. Gonzales, Dean of Students
More than 100 comments have collected on the CU Boulder Facebook page's post about the incident to date, with parents and students alike weighing in. Here's a sampling:
Horrible and heartbreaking! What NO parent ever should have to endure!

Prayers to the family of the student, of course, but also to the admin., staff, and all those counseling incoming students.

I am so sorry, this is such sad news. My heart goes out to his family, his friends, and to all the students and faculty. Receiving this email notification today was horrifying and heart breaking.

My old dorm. So sad. Prayers to the family.

CU forever.

No surprise that assorted tweets and social media posts have speculated as to a cause of death. But thus far, no definitive finding has been released -- and neither has basic information, such as the student's age. However, Stearns West is primarily populated by freshmen.

Our sincere condolences to the student's friends, family and loved ones, as well as to the entire CU Boulder community.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts