Loss of student leaves college community in mourning

The Scripps College community is in mourning after a well-known student was found dead in her dorm room over the weekend.

Police were called to Browning Hall on the 1100 block of Amherst around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 4 after the body of Tatissa Zunguze, 20, was discovered. The official cause of death was suicide, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.

Reactions to the news and remembrances of Ms. Zunguze flooded social media in the hours and days following her death. In an email sent to students and faculty, Scripps President Lara Tiedens and Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson said they had spoken to Ms. Zunguze’s family and offered condolences.

“Tatissa was a well-known and beloved member of our community, who touched the lives of many people over the past three years,” Ms. Tiedens wrote. “She was a scholar, a leader, and a mentor and she will be greatly missed.”

In a statement posted to Facebook, Scripps professors Piya Chatterjee and Jih-Fei Cheng of the Department of Feminist and Gender Studies praised Ms. Zunguze’s roles as a resident advisor and member of the search committee for school positions. She was also lauded for her work with black student groups such as Wanawake Weusi, which describes itself as a “collective to support women of African descent at Scripps College in endeavors educational, cultural, personal, and spiritual.”

Ms. Chatterjee and Mr. Cheng noted Ms. Zunguze was working on lab research to combat HIV last summer, and wanted to combine her perspectives in queer and feminist people of color studies into her research.

“The loss of Tatissa is devastating,” they wrote. “We know Tatissa as a vivid, beautiful person and it has been very surreal to wake up to this news.”

Ms. Zunguze is the second student at the Claremont Colleges found dead this year. On February 2, Willie Zuniga, a 21-year-old Harvey Mudd College student,  was also found dead in his dorm. At press time, Mr. Zuniga’s cause of death was unknown pending further investigation, the coroner’s report stated.

A candlelight vigil was organized in front of Balch Hall on Sunday. A second tribute at the Motley was planned for Thursday night.

—Matthew Bramlett



[Ed. note: the original version of this article mistakenly noted March 4 as a Sunday, when it was a Saturday. In addition, Professor Jih-Fei Cheng is male, not female. The COURIER regrets these errors.]


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