Tragedy on campus: Three students have died at Columbia in one week

Seven have died this academic year so far

In just one week, tragedy has struck the Columbia community three times.

It happened again this evening: an email was sent out informing the passing of Columbia College freshman Daniel Andreotti, a “happy guy with immense intellectual curiosity.” According to James Valentini, Daniel died last night after being taken to the hospital on Thursday.

This comes after Zeke Reiser passed away at his home over the weekend. He was the son of adjunct faculty members Nanako Umemoto and Jesse Reiser, and we received news of his death yesterday.

Last week, Columbia informed us of the passing of Mia Chen. An exchange student from Doshisha University in Japan, she died in an apparent suicide. She was 23.

Daniel Andreotti

Death, whenever it strikes a community, is tragic. Three in one week within a small community, and “devastating” doesn’t seem to quite cover it.

Unfortunately, there have been four other deaths this academic year. It’s taken a toll on all of us.

Nicole Orttung was a senior in GS, studying in the Dual BA Program, majoring in Euro-American relations and political science. She was called “a dedicated student”, “wonderful” and “a joy” by her peers. She died aged 21.

Nicole Orttung

Mounia Abousaid, a Comparative Literature and Society major from Morocco, transferred to Columbia from the United World College in New Mexico. She was a senior.

Mounia Abousaid

Taylor Wallace, was a freshman in CC. He left Columbia in October to return home and passed away shortly after. “He was a very nice kid and well-rounded and had a lot of great potential, and this was just very sad,” Jean-François, a student who lived on his floor told the Columbia Spectator.

Uriel Flozer was a military veteran in GS. He was 29, and transferred the previous year from Bergen Community College. At the time, GS Dean Tom Harford said: “Uriel was working toward a major in Political Science, a field that fed his passion for examining global affairs and U.S. foreign policy. We send our heartfelt condolences to Uriel’s family and friends during this very difficult time.” A 5k run was held in his memory.

These tragic events have happened all too frequently.

We contacted Columbia for comment, and they directed us to this blog. An extract reads:

“When our community experiences a tragic loss, coming together with others is one of the most basic, human steps we can take in the face of grief, confusion, or profound sadness. For some, this may be with friends. For others, student-life advisers, clergy or counselors provide important conversation and comfort.

“After losses to suicide or accidental overdose, questions about what we might have done to step in, to provide help, to make a difference, can weigh especially heavily.

“While every one of us who works on these issues is always thinking about how to strengthen students’ connections to the mental health and substance abuse services they need, these kinds of losses reinforce how desperately important it is that we do this. We feel this especially right now, as the undergraduate schools have recently suffered several losses. While each of these students had their own personal history and circumstances, these losses deeply affect our community and the pressing nature of our work moving forward.”

It’s important to remember the resources available to everyone in the Columbia community. Whatever you are feeling, there is no need to go through it alone. Remember to reach out to other students, CPS, your adviser, your dean or one of the many campus hotlines.

Here is a list of some of the available resources for support

– Columbia Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) – (212) 854-2878
– Columbia Health – (212) 854-7426
– Office of the University Chaplain – (212) 854-1493
– Berick Center for Student Advising (CSA) – (212) 854-6378
– Director of Student Wellness – (212) 853-1369
– NightLine – (212) 854-7777

Columbia University