On Thursday, March 2, the University of Massachusetts Boston announced that a freshman male student died as a result of his injuries from falling off the third floor of the Campus Center on Tuesday, Feb. 28. Per the family’s request, the university is withholding the student’s name.
Public Safety officers found the freshman on the Upper Level around 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 28. The freshman was found conscious. Officers provided medical care along with Boston EMS. Other officers and staff cordoned off the the area and asked witnesses to move back as students were using social media and taking videos of the scene.
A Campus Center staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, said that she and her colleague heard but did not see the incident.
She stated, “I heard a large boom and he was all on the ground."
She added that students were pointing, and that she told those nearby not to move him so that they did not potentially make his injuries worse.
An anonymous male student said that he and his friend “heard a bang” and that it “happened so quick."
Police officers later sealed a corner of the Upper Level where the freshman’s body was found. They also closed a section of the third floor where his backpack was also found.
The freshman was transported by an ambulance to an area hospital. Soon after, officers began to interview people to see if anyone had witnessed what happened before he fell. Reportedly, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Gail DiSabatino, went to check on the freshman.
The Mass Media has learned that prior to the incident, around 1:11 p.m., the freshman entered into a class in Wheatley Hall. A student described him as being “out of breath” and having a “black eye [and] torn lip." He added that the freshman used to be a member of the class.
A student reported that the freshman “came out of nowhere” and spoke to the professor, saying “I missed you, mom," and grabbing her shoulders.
Students added that the freshman told Professor Diana Burgin to “make it stop." Both students and Professor Burgin were unclear as to what the freshman meant. Professor Burgin asked the freshman if she could help him find his mother.
Marisa White, a student in the class, explained that Professor Burgin was “extremely surprised” by the freshman’s comments. White added that the freshman left the room saying, “I have to go home,” and that he would call for help when he got there.
According to Professor Burgin, who teaches the class of 70 students, she did not know the freshman personally until the Dean of Students confirmed he was enrolled in the class. Professor Burgin stated that the freshman had regularly attended class and was a good pupil, up until this February. The freshman then headed to the Campus Center and was followed by two of his classmates, who were trying to console him.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Gail DiSabatino released a statement, writing, “Tragic events like this remind us of our shared humanity and our obligations to those around us.” She added, “[L]et us resolve to ensure all our actions are guided by the principles of inclusion, acceptance, and compassion, and that we are always listening to and thoughtful of those around us."
In the same email, DiSabatino encouraged students who would like to talk to go to the University Health Services’ Counseling Center located on the second floor of the Quinn Administration Building. UHS is offering drop-in hours for individuals or groups who are seeking help. The center is also offering emergency walk-in hours if students would like to meet with a counselor individually.
DiSabatino mentioned in her email that UMass Boston employees and their families have the ComPsych GuidanceResources, which “provides support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." DiSabatino noted that the service is confidential and that the service can be accessed both by phone or through their website using an individual’s UMass Boston ID number.
Additional resources include the Disaster Distress Helpline, “a national hotline dedicated to providing year-round immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster."
The Disaster Distress Helpline can be reached at 1-800-985-5990. The Samaritans also offer a local hotline that can be accessed either by phone or through text at 877-870-4673.