Campus remembers first-year: Student response


Image source: Andrew Topham

A collage of photos of Connor Gage posted Feb. 10 on his Caring Bridge site by family friend Andrew Topham. Gage died Feb. 2 in a North Winooski Avenue parking lot after exposure to sub-zero temperatures following visits to two off-campus fraternities.

Lily Young, Staff Writer

Students and faculty around campus mourn the death of first-year Connor Gage.

Gage died Feb. 2 in a North Winooski parking lot after exposure to subzero temperatures after attending two off-campus fraternities, according to a Feb. 4 Cynic article.

On the night of Gage’s death, each floor in Central Campus Residence Hall, where he lived, held community circles to talk about Gage’s death and provide support for one another, first-year CCRH resident Grace Rizio said.

WE Associate Director Jeff Rettew attended the meeting on Gage’s floor along with over 70 students.

“It was awesome to see how people showed up for one another,” Rettew said.

Rettew said students were shocked and saddened at the news of Gage’s death.

Gage had just as many friends in WE as outside of it, Rettew said, but the proximity of his death to other WE members brought about a sense of how precious life is for them.

CAPS counselors came to CCRH Feb. 9 and 10 to help students process Gage’s death, Rizio said. Rizio said it is important for people to check up on their friends.

“If people find themselves in difficult situations, they need to have people they can reach out to,” Rizio said. “Make sure that you are someone your friends can reach out to.”

First-year Josh Arvin, a CCRH resident, said students had to sit in the hall during his floor meeting because the room was so packed with people.

Students went around the room discussing their feelings and reactions to Gage’s death. The overall feeling in the room was serious and intense, Arvin said.

The meeting was an open discussion between students in an environment that made students feel comfortable to share their thoughts and connect with one other, Arvin said.

Junior Alex Creighton, a Resident Advisor in CCRH, helped lead one of the community meetings with other RAs and a member of Residential Life.

“I had heard that the student was out partying. I hoped it wasn’t going to turn into some lesson,” Creighton said. “Yes, we’re the Wellness Environment, but someone just passed away.”

Creighton said that the meeting gave the residents a chance to share what they were feeling in light of Gage’s death.

“Pretty overwhelmingly, people were shocked and saddened,” he said. “A lot of them were saying they need the community to come together.”

Rizio said that Gage’s death was shocking to her because she never expects someone to pass so suddenly, especially someone of the same age.

Vice Provost Annie Stevens said the WE community is devastated and will have its own grieving process.

“They and the rest of the campus will become more diligent about how we continue to encourage students — whether its a program like WE with incentivized behavior and more education — what is it that helps students understand it can happen to anyone, and that’s the hard part,” she said.

On Feb. 12, UVM Bikes will hold a memorial ride to honor Connor’s death with a time of sharing following the ride.

“The UVM Community is invited to celebrate Connor’s life and memorialize the impact he had on our campus,” Stevens stated in a Feb. 8 email.

Rettew hopes that the UVM community will keep on remembering Connor’s life and celebrating the memories they shared with him.

“Our deepest condolences continue to be extended to family, friends, and the communities in which Connor was active,” Stevens stated in the email.