Stop! In the name of human decency
Gossip about Kovacs’ behavior ignores magnitude of her death
The entire Rutgers community was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Caitlyn Kovacs, a 19-year-old School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore who was studying animal science. Kovacs was pronounced dead upon arrival at Robert Wood Johnson hospital at 3:19 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21. The cause of death has not yet been determined.
But on the Internet, the guessing games have already begun.
While some people have been supportive, many comments on news articles about her death are downright disrespectful, and people have been very vocal about their irrelevant opinions concerning her death. There are so many assumptions being made, like “she obviously didn’t think through on her decisions,” and “this is why I don’t party and drink … ” Let’s get one thing straight, right off the bat: The public doesn’t know how Kovacs died, and even if an official cause of death is made public, it’s no one’s place to make any judgments at all. As the editorial board of our campus newspaper, we feel obligated to address the rumors, speculation and false reports that have been thrown around since the news of Kovacs’ broke last Sunday.
Many people are also blaming Kovacs’ death on the fraternity that she was at that night, with comments such as “It’s not a stereotype to say that fraternities and sororities are out of control. It’s a fact.” Another read, “Not sure why the hate is on fraternities. Underage drinking happens everywhere.” What good is there in blaming anyone for what happened? Just because she died after being at a fraternity house does not mean the same thing couldn’t have just as easily happened somewhere else — even in a residence hall, which has happened at Rutgers in the past.
Using Kovacs’ death as an opportunity to make sweeping generalizations about fraternities and associate greek life with the common stereotype of “out-of-control drinking” is beyond disrespectful. We’re frankly disgusted by this kind of response online and really disappointed to see it coming out of our own community. The speculation has to stop. Kovacs’ death is tragic and obviously unexpected, and people need to have more respect for her and for her family during this difficult time.
We will give credit to the University, however, for handling this situation very well. Both University President Robert L. Barchi and Vice Chancellor Richard Edwards sent out email to the Rutgers community to notify students of her death (and yesterday, unfortunately, for the death of another student as well). The emails were very appropriate and respectful toward both Kovacs and those affected by her death, and included detailed information about extra counseling services being provided by the University for those who might need it.
What happened to Kovacs could have happened to anyone, and the fact that it was right here on the College Avenue campus hits very close to home for all of us. People have become so desensitized to stories about death, often because they are so far removed from the person who died. But we all need to take a step back and really think about the fact that Kovacs was a student at Rutgers, just like us. Rather than jumping to conclusions about what happened and engaging in mindless, insensitive gossip about Kovacs or the fraternity, let’s have some more respect and remember her for who she was.