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Statements Regarding Student Death

Statement by Alan Cubbage, Vice President for University Relations, regarding the death of a student, Matthew Sunshine.

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June 11, 2008
Statement by Alan K. Cubbage, Northwestern University Vice President for University Relations, regarding the death of a student, Matthew Sunshine

Northwestern University is extremely saddened by the death of one of its students, Matthew Sunshine, and the findings of the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office that the death was alcohol-related. We extend our deepest sympathies to Matthew's family and friends for their profound loss.

Excessive alcohol consumption is a phenomenon that occurs on college campuses nationwide, and Northwestern is not immune from such societal issues. The University provides extensive education regarding the prevention of alcohol abuse to all students as part of freshman orientation. Those messages are reiterated through residence hall meetings and other forums. Unfortunately, students engage in risky behavior involving alcohol. This incident is a reminder to all of us in the Northwestern community of the potentially tragic results of such behavior.

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Dear Members of the Northwestern Community:

As I reported to you yesterday, one of our undergraduate students, Matthew Sunshine, died yesterday. The Cook County Medical Examiner's office today ruled that the cause of death was alcohol-related. The University is extremely saddened by this and extends our deepest sympathies to Matthew's family and friends for their profound loss.

This unfortunate death serves as a tragic example of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption. This phenomenon occurs on college campuses nationwide and Northwestern is not immune from such societal issues. Nevertheless, it is devastating to lose a member of our community in this manner and we are all affected by it.

As you know, Northwestern provides extensive education regarding the prevention of alcohol abuse to students as part of freshman orientation. Those messages are reiterated through residence hall meetings and other forums. However, we know that some students occasionally engage in risky behavior involving alcohol. Therefore, we urge you to consider this event as a reminder of the potentially tragic results of such behavior.

A memorial vigil for Matthew will be held at the Rock Thursday, June 12 at 9:30 p.m. There will be time for Matthew's friends to share their memories and thoughts at this time of great sadness. Some students are planning to put together a scrapbook in which messages of condolence may be written after the vigil. The scrapbook will be sent to Matthew's parents. All are welcome to attend.

If there are questions about this vigil, please contact University Chaplain Timothy Stevens at 847-491-2298 or at <chaplain@northwestern.edu>.

When you entered Northwestern, we asked you to take care of yourselves, take care of your friends and take care of your community here at Northwestern. As this school year draws to a close, marked by this tragic event, we hope that you will continue to keep your personal welfare and that of your fellow students in mind, and in doing so, help us protect all the members of our community.

William J. Banis
Vice President for Student Affairs
Topics: University