Student pens letter to President Loh regarding unacknowledged student deaths

By Maristela Romero

Though not all of them occurred on campus, there have been five University of Maryland student deaths in the past six months.

In October, junior psychology major Julia Maney wrote a letter to University of Maryland President Wallace Loh, asking that he further acknowledge the recent deaths of Lt. Collins III, Mark Palmarella, Kaley Smith, Mason Jayne, Nsikan “Zeke” Udoh and Maria Fisher.

She also suggested he reach out and inform the campus community on all instances such as these ones moving forward.

Though her letter has garnered online support and accumulated about 900 student signatures, Maney said she originally received some “negative feedback” for grouping the murder of Lt. Collins III with other student deaths.

“I think when some people read the letter, at first they thought I was saying that every death should be dealt with in the same way [Collins’s] death was dealt with,” Maney said.

Collins’s name has since been removed to avoid further misconceptions of the purpose of her letter.

Maney said she initially considered writing the letter last semester, when her close friend lost someone and his death went unnoticed by much of the surrounding community.  

Julia Maney, pictured above, amassed support from hundreds of students for her letter to President Loh. Photo by Robyn Pidlinskey.

Since the death of Maria Fisher on Oct. 1, the dynamic on campus “kind of brought back all those feelings again, so I just went through with it,” Maney said.

Junior psychology major Amy Johnson, who co-signed the letter, expressed similar concerns regarding the lack of recognition given to these students and the contributions they have made to the university.

Though Maney said an argument can be made that the lack of acknowledging these student deaths was to respect privacy, she noted that a simple university-wide email honoring their lives would have sufficed.

“When they say we’re such a strong community…and for a student to pass away and for us not to hear anything…things like this really make me question if the university [cares].” Maney said.

Junior business management and government and politics double major Rick Mikulis said the letter signified “a widely held student sentiment that the administration hasn’t really been doing its job as far as acknowledging tragedies,” and that receiving news of a classmate’s death through campus publications rather than through university administration has been a continuous problem.

University administration has yet to respond to the letter.

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