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Editorial | TMS calls on administration to address recent student deaths

By Editorial Board
On November 22, 2013

As parents, siblings, best friends, classmates and professors, it's never an easy process to say goodbye to someone who has made a lifelong impression on your life.

Within the last 12 months at Miami, we have had to endure this painful goodbye to our peers far too many times, and it isn't getting any easier.

In regards to the recent death of sophomore Jaclyn Wulf, those of us on The Miami Student Editorial Board send our thoughts and condolences to her family, friends and those close to her. The board encourages those affected by Wulf's passing to contact the university's emotional support services at 513-529-2222 and to reach out to friends and family. Wulf's death marks the fifth Miami student to pass away in 12 months, three of which died this semester. Writing about death is hard for any journalist, but it's been particularly difficult for us as students when the people whose stories we are writing are our fellow classmates and peers.

We are saddened and weary. This has to stop. How can we, as students and the Miami community, work to prevent further students from getting hurt?

It's scary to think these deaths may have been preventable. Especially if they involve outside factors including alcohol, drugs and prescription pills.

Of the five students who have died, three have been substance-related. Last December, junior Andy Supronas died of a substance overdose and first-year Nicole Sefton was found to have been drinking before she died in a car crash last January. This semester, the Miami community suffered the loss of Sean VanDyne, who died in a fatal car crash, killing one UC student and though we don't know the results of his toxicity report, the Butler County Sheriff's Office suspects he had alcohol in his system.

The other two deaths this semester include Jacob Jarman, who was hit by a train, whose cause of death has yet to be determined. Both Jarman and Wulf's cases are undergoing toxicity tests. It's a tough dose of news to swallow, but these three incidences are examples, a wake-up call. We students need to do a better job of having each others' backs.

Walking friends home, picking them up from a party when we know they can't drive-these small acts could possibly prevent the unknown and unthinkable. Ask your friends and classmates about their day and what they have going on in their lives. You never truly know if something serious is going on if you don't provide them a platform to tell you.

Even if you didn't know any of these students, you have more in common with than you think. They all went out on the weekends just like us, thrived in student organizations, crammed for exams, laughed with their best friends over coffee at King and worked toward their goal of graduating.

These deaths are not just numbers. We cannot let them become nothing but news clippings that fade away with time within the archives. We have to let them affect us, to remind us that something needs to be done.

Right now, we need to hear from our university administration, and preferably something longer than 140 characters. These circumstances can no longer be ignored. No matter how many talented PR strategists are employed at Miami spreading images of safety, awareness and a student body that helps each other, they cannot cover the fact that there are reoccurring issues within the student body involving alcohol and substance abuse at alarming rates.

The board believes the loss of five students in 12 months is five too many. We expect the university to answer these issues with better solutions.

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