Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, January 19, 2018

Campus mourns sudden death of student

Z’ane Davis-Smith passed away last night following a medical emergency

UPDATE as of 7:04 a.m. on Nov. 5:

The start time for SUB and IFC's Battle of the Bands event has been pushed back to 8 p.m. in order to accommodate the start time for the candlelight vigil being held in memory of sophomore Z'ane Davis-Smith, Dawson Bristol, the director of SUB, said.

"My instinct was to cancel or postpone but the University wants us to do late night programming to encourage students to be on campus and safe at this time so, like the movie nights, we're trying to make it a healing space and are going to dedicate the event to Z'ane," Bristol said.

UPDATE as of 4:31 p.m. on Nov. 4: 

The University Chaplain will host a candlelight vigil in memory of sophomore Z’ane Davis-Smith on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m on the steps of Kay Spiritual Life Center.

Student Government President Devontae Torriente released a statement at 4:05 p.m. today expressing his condolences to the family, friends and others affected by the passing of Davis-Smith.

“Although we all may be impacted by her passing differently, remember that how you grieve and process an occurrence such as this is absolutely valid,” Torriente said in the statement, emphasizing how it is important that students take care of themselves and access the resources available on campus.

SG, in partnership with the Residence Hall Association, will also host open movie nights tonight, Nov. 4, at 8:30 p.m. in the Tavern and MGC 245 to provide a comforting space for those grieving, according to Torriente’s statement. Food will be provided. 

SUB and IFC’s Battle of the Bands event will take place as scheduled on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. The regularly scheduled Undergraduate Senate meeting on Sunday, Nov. 7 has been canceled, Secretary Kris Schneider told The Eagle. 

To follow up its initial memo to the campus community, the University has released a second memo reiterating the family’s request not to share further details surrounding the circumstances of Davis-Smith’s death. The memo also included information about campus resources and upcoming gatherings for residents of McDowell Hall organized by the Counseling Center.

ORIGINAL STORY: 

The University is mourning the loss of sophomore Z’ane Davis-Smith, who passed away suddenly Thursday evening, Vice President of Campus Life Dr. Gail Hanson said in a memo to the campus community this morning.

Davis-Smith, a resident of McDowell Hall and originally from Cheltenham, Maryland, died following a medical emergency, Hanson said in the memo. 

“As we mourn the tragic loss of a promising young student, we extend our sympathy to Z’ane’s family and friends and those in the AU community who knew her,” Hanson said in the memo. “At this time, we are reminded of the importance of coming together.”

Davis-Smith, a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, was an active member of the AU community. A musical theatre major, Davis-Smith acted in several theatre department productions and most recently performed in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” She was also a member of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion’s Summer Transition Enrichment Program (STEP) in 2015. 

The Office of Campus Life and the Office of the Dean of Students met this morning with students who were involved in the theatre department and STEP program with Davis-Smith, Assistant Vice President of Campus Life Fanta Aw told The Eagle.

The Counseling Center will offer its normal walk-in hours from 2-4 p.m. today. The Dean of Students staff will also be available on a walk-in basis and the Kay Spiritual Life Center chapel will be open for reflection from 12-5 p.m., Hanson wrote in the memo. 

McDowell and Hughes Hall Resident Assistants were notified of Davis-Smith’s death at approximately 11:30 p.m. last night, and residents on her floor were notified at approximately 1:30 a.m., Aw said.

Dean of Students Robert Hradsky will be working with her family moving forward to determine if and how a memorial service on campus will be held for Davis-Smith, and will respect the wishes of her family, Vice President of Communication Theresa Flannery said. 

University Chaplain Mark Schaefer will also meet with Davis-Smith’s family to determine whether it is appropriate to proceed with a campus memorial service and what role the family may wish to have in planning and participating in the service, according to the University’s procedure for death in the campus community.

Friends of Davis-Smith began to post condolences on her Facebook page in the hours following word of her death. Featured prominently on Davis-Smith’s profile is a photo of the quote, “You are enough, you are so enough. It’s unbelievable how enough you are.” 

Haley Samsel, Katherine Saltzman, Courtney Rozen and Jillian O'Donohoe contributed to this report. 

kmagill@theeagleonline.com


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