Memorial planned for Pierce student

By Katherine Anne Robinson

Ilana Shaffer, a first-year student in the College, passed away on Wednesday, February 6 in her room on the ninth floor of Pierce Tower. The cause of death is not yet fully clear, officials at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office say.

“The cause of death is not immediately apparent…there were no obvious indicators that would lead us to believe that the death was self-inflicted,” said Director of the University House System Cheryl Gutman in an email sent to all Resident Heads.

“The cause of Ilana’s tragic death appears from all external evidence to have been totally unexpected and natural,” said Dean of Students Margo Marshak. “We anticipate that the Medical Examiner will confirm this although it may take days or even weeks.”

Shaffer’s death was discovered by her roommate on Wednesday afternoon. It will be as many as eight to ten weeks before the findings of an autopsy that was conducted yesterday morning are corroborated through a series of tests.

Students in Pierce Tower’s Shorey House met last night with Rabbi David Rosenberg of the Newberger Hillel Center, Alison Bowden, Dean of Rockefeller Chapel, and other administrators to make arrangements for a memorial service.

Members of the campus ministry and Student Counseling Resources Services have been available to Shorey House residents for the past two nights.

“We are trying to provide trained professionals to help students deal with this tragedy,” said Susan Art, dean of students of the College. “All counselors have been put on alert and College advisors have opened their doors to students.”

The memorial service will be held on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the library on the first floor of Ida Noyes Hall. A funernal service will be held in Manalapan, New Jersey, Shaffer’s home town.

“All of us share in the tragedy of losing such a young life, and our hearts go out to her family and friends,” Marshak said.