Emerson community loses first-year student

by Christina Jedra / Beacon Staff • October 15, 2014

Students and faculty gathered in prayer and song on Wednesday to mourn Straus’s death.
Students and faculty gathered in prayer and song on Wednesday to mourn Straus’s death.

Updated Oct. 15 at 11:32 p.m.

Freshman Jocelyn Amelia Straus, a political communication major, died in her dorm room Tuesday night, President M. Lee Pelton announced in an email to the Emerson community Wednesday morning.

Straus, a student in the honors program from El Cerrito, California, passed away alone in her room in the Colonial Building, Pelton said.

The cause of death will be determined by the Boston medical examiner, according to a press release from the college.

“Several of my Emerson colleagues and I visited with some of you who knew Jocelyn and I want you to know that we all share your deep sense of loss,” Pelton wrote in his email. “She was a bright light taken from this world far too soon. Words cannot express our grief.”

Boston police officers and EMTs, along with Emerson police officers and staff members, responded to the incident late Tuesday night, according to a Boston police report. Three Boston Police detectives also responded and conducted a further investigation, the report says.

Pelton said details regarding a memorial service will be announced soon.

Straus’ parents were contacted on Tuesday night by Pelton, Dean of Students Ron Ludman, and the Boston Police, according to Andrew Tiedemann, vice president for communications and marketing.

“Both President Pelton and Dean Ludman have had additional conversations with her parents today, and plan to continue those conversations in the days ahead to provide the family with any support and assistance they may need during this extremely difficult time,” Tiedemann wrote in a statement to the Beacon.

In his Wednesday email, Pelton encouraged students to take advantage of on-campus resources at Counseling and Psychological Services and the Office of Spiritual Life.

Staff from Counseling and Psychological Services were available in the Multipurpose Room hours to meet with students Wednesday afternoon.

Over 20 students, faculty, and staff attended a nondenominational prayer night for Straus on Wednesday in the Bill Bordy Theater arranged by Phillip Roquemore, a freshman visual and media arts major and Emerson Christian Fellowship member.

Aaron Halvorsen, an advisor for the Christian Fellowship, spoke about maintaining faith amid hardship.

“God sympathizes with us in these times,” he said.

Roquemore encouraged attendees to split into small groups to talk and pray together.  

“There are other people [at Emerson] who are going through hard times and dark things,” Roquemore said. “I’d encourage you to enter into prayer and thoughtfulness towards them.”

Deputy News Editor Martha Schick contributed to this report.