Sophomore Cayley Mandadi, cheerleader and woman of Chi Beta Epsilon, died on the afternoon of Oct. 31. Mourning students joined a Nov. 1 gathering led by university chaplain Stephen Nickle and Gary Neal, director of Counseling Services; a memorial vigil is being planned.
Students, staff and faculty were officially informed of Mandadi’s death early Nov. 1, when university president Danny Anderson sent an email to campus with the subject line “Mourning the Loss of a Trinity Student.”
“While I wish I could provide the answers we all seek about how and why something like this could happen, few details are yet available,” Anderson wrote. “Our focus now must be on supporting Cayley’s family, friends and classmates as we grieve her loss.”
There are few details available regarding Mandadi’s passing, which is the first time an enrolled Trinity University student has died since a car crash took the life of Corey Byrnes in late March, 2015.
“The university community suffered a very terrible loss, and our primary purpose is supporting the students and the family, and supporting her friends and classmates, and supporting campus,” said Sharon Jones Schweitzer, assistant vice president for external relations. “It was a very tragic loss. There are very few details to share other than to confirm that she died.”
Schweitzer said she does not have any information regarding the causes of Mandadi’s death.
“I don’t know when we will know more. I would imagine that sometime in the near future we might know some more, but I cannot promise that we might share more information,” Schweitzer said. “You know, a large focus is [on] protecting her privacy.”
Nick Santulli, president of Student Government Association (SGA), provided comforting words for students shocked by the news.
“At Trinity, where we are all so interconnected, the loss of one person affects a ton of people around them,” Santulli said. “It creates a really big impact. I think in times like this, it’s really important for all of us to find strength in each other and our memories of Cayley as well.”
Santulli says that SGA is working with Trinity University, Chi Beta Epsilon, and Mandadi’s family to host an event honoring the deceased.
“There are a lot of parties involved and a lot of them would like some more space to figure out how to best address the tragedy,” Santulli said.
Nickle and Neal offered one way for those affected to address Mandadi’s passing. The two organized an opportunity for students to share their feelings and their memories of Mandadi in confidence. According to Nickle, about 20 students joined the group.
“It feels crazy to think, ‘Here is somebody down in the front of the crowds, leading cheers on Saturday,’ who is dead several days later,” Nickle said in an interview following the support groupâ€™s meeting. “That’s a crazy concept.”
Nickle recognized the varying degrees of grief that students may experience and emphasized the validity of each.
“Sometimes people have passing acquaintances, and then that person dies. It’s like there’s a different sense of loss. ‘Gosh, I never got to really know that person the way I would have liked to,’ but now they’re gone,” Nickle said. “Some of the loss is, ‘This is my dear friend, and how can the world still exist when this person is not here?’ ”
University officials including Anderson, TUPD officers and David Tuttle, dean of students, referred reporters to Schweitzer for further questions.