Student found dead at East End remains unnamed, construction to resume
In accordance with wishes from the family, Washington University is not currently naming the student who was found dead Friday morning at the East End construction site. Construction was halted after a worker discovered the body at 8 a.m. Friday but is expected to resume Monday, Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Jill Friedman said.
The Washington University Police Department is currently leading an ongoing investigation in partnership with St. Louis County Police Department into the incident but confirmed that no foul play was involved in the death, according to Friedman.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori White notified students of the death in an all-school email around 4 p.m. Friday. Friedman said that the University has no definitive plans to share more information with the student body, adding that ultimately any future communication will depend on the wishes of the family, as well as on what information the University determines would be helpful to share.
“We have dual responsibility,” Friedman said. “We have responsibility to be as compassionate and supportive as we possibly can be with the family and also to make sure that our University community is aware that something has happened on our campus—and also that, in this case, there is no threat [and] that there isn’t a reason to be afraid.”
Camera footage of the construction site—set up to allow the community to watch progress on the massive multi-faceted expansion to the East End of campus, slated for completion in May 2019—has also been provided to the police. The cameras, which take one picture about every 10 minutes, were taken down Friday out of respect for the student, Friedman said, but will go back up as construction resumes.
The University informed a variety of news outlets early Friday that construction had been halted. But Friedman said it wasn’t until after the family could be notified and told communication would be shared with the public—and that confirmation was made with law enforcement—that an email to students was sent and a news release posted on the school’s website.
Friedman also spoke of the difficult balance between informing the campus community of a death on campus and respecting the privacy and grieving process of the student’s family.
“We have really difficult decisions to make, too. But we try to do so in very, very close partnership with [the] family because the last thing we ever want to do is compound what is already just an excruciatingly painful time for them by sharing information that they’re not ready to absorb,” Friedman said. “Every situation is unique given the student, given the family, given the incident—so, we take extreme care to move slowly and with sensitivity and not rush.”