The death of first year Nicholas Barnett in a car accident last Wednesday, November 21 has left many members of the Bowdoin community stunned and saddened.
In the three months that he was at Bowdoin, Barnett had already carved out a niche for himself. He was a close friend of his floormates, an enthusiastic student, and member of the sailing team.
Barnett was killed late last Wednesday evening in his hometown of Lexington, Massachusetts, when the car he was driving went off the road and hit a tree. Two of Barnett's friends were passengers in the vehicle; they were injured but are expected to recover.
Administrators learned of Barnett's death on Thanksgiving morning, but after consulting with students decided to wait until Friday before informing the college community, according to Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster.
"It's something I really struggled with and decided not to do, just knowing the way it would change the dynamic for families at Thanksgiving," he said.
On Friday morning, November 23, Foster began calling Barnett's floormates, adviser, and sailing teammates to notify them of what had happened. Foster then sent an e-mail at 2 p.m. to all students and employees of the College.
The e-mail announced a gathering at the Chapel on Sunday night that was led by Reverend Sylvia Stocker, a local Unitarian Universalist minister (Barnett's denomination).
"Sunday night was a time for people to come together to be with one another," Foster said. He said that around 100 people came to the Chapel and shared stories and remembrances.
Stocker said she concluded the ceremony by reading one of Barnett's favorite passages from the book "The Wind in the Willows" about "messing about in boats."
In addition to the service, Barnett's sailing coach, Sherry Fowler, made herself available at 30 College St. on Sunday night for any of Barnett's teammates who needed support.
Barnett's floormates traveled to Lexington on Monday to attend his viewing hours that evening and memorial service on Tuesday, spending the night at the home of their proctor, Bobby Welch '10, in Dover, Massachusetts.
Additionally, a bus departed from Moulton Union on Tuesday morning for the memorial service, which was attended by around 500 people, according to Barnett's parents.
Foster said that between 40 and 50 of the attendees were Bowdoin community members.
Barnett's hallmates, the third floor of Maine Hall, were one of the most affected groups of students. So that they would have a place to come together, Maine Hall's fourth-floor residents redecorated the third-floor common room.
Shosh Cohn '11, one of Barnett's floormates, said that floor members depended on each other to help deal with Barnett's death.
"There was always a shoulder to cry on or share a hug with," Cohn wrote in an e-mail. "These guys are the ones that really helped one another pull through the tragedy."
Foster said that a memorial service for Barnett would be held on campus at some point, most likely before the end of the semester, but that administrators needed to first find a date that would work for Barnett's parents.
Despite Barnett's death, his parents said that they wanted to maintain a connection with the school.
"We hope for the rest of our lives to be connected to the class of 2011," said Elizabeth DeMille Barnett, Nick's mother.