The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

    Sonoma State mourns the loss of freshman student

    While many questions remain, details are emerging regarding the death of a student on campus that happened on November 17.

    According to Sonoma State University Associate Vice President Strategic Communications, Paul Gullixson, 18-year old freshman Trevor London Leopold was identified as the person found unresponsive in his dorm room located in Zinfandel Village. 

    Mr. Gullixson said, “University Police received a call at 2 p.m….police and emergency crews including firefighters responded and made attempts to revive him, but he was declared dead a short time later.”

    The buzz on campus was palpable all week, and the lack of communication regarding the circumstances surrounding the incident fueled students’ curiosity.

    Details are few and far between, and other than coverage in the STAR, reporting of the incident is virtually non-existent.

    Mr. Leopold was a new Sonoma State student from Marin County, recently enrolling after graduating from Tamalpais Union High School in 2019.

    As reported in the obituary published by the family in the Marin Independent Journal, Mr. Leopold’s life was ended, “by what is likely an accidental overdose.” 

    According to University officials, “the cause of death is still unknown, and the case is under investigation by University Police and the Sonoma County Coroner’s office…but University Police do not suspect foul play.”

    Sonoma State is a relatively small campus, and the death was a shock to the community. Students and faculty are grieving the loss, and counselors are available, offering support to all in need.

    University leaders, including President Judy Sakaki, reached out to the family, and condolences are pouring in from friends across the region.

    Mr. Leopold’s family remembers him as a “loving human being with a huge heart…certified Audubon junior birdwatcher, cub scout, boy scout, little leaguer, and avid lover of nature.”

    Maggie McCann of San Rafael left a comment on the obituary saying she was “heartbroken with hearing this sad news… Trevor was a shining light for all that met him.”

    Student deaths are in the news regularly this year, and concerns are mounting after the University of Southern California experienced nine deaths so far.

     According to the Los Angeles Times, the high number of deaths has many students concerned and left many questions unanswered. As with the recent death at Sonoma State, rumors and speculation on campus are the direct results of a lack of information.

    As indicated by the UVA study published in 2011, statistically, mortality rates are lower for students than for people the same age in the general population. Suicide and alcohol are leading causes, after auto accidents, for preventable deaths.

    Mr. Leopold’s death could lead to more awareness of the dangers associated with overdosing. If toxicology reports confirm the family’s suspicion of overdose, the incident is a clear warning to all that serious consequences exist when taking or combining drugs, both pharmaceutical and illicit.

    Parents are commenting online that they hope this incident is a wake-up call to others with risky habits. 

    First-year students face enormous pressure as they transition to college and adult life, and it is not uncommon to experience emotional trauma. Help is available both on and off-campus for a range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

    Mr. Leopold’s family asks all that wish to honor Trevor’s memory do so with a random act of kindness for others. 

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