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Rachel Swett, C’11, Passes Away in New Zealand

Photo via Facebook

Tragic news for the entire Columbia community today: Rachel Swett, a rising senior in CC, died after a skiing accident in New Zealand, where she was studying abroad this semester.

Dean Shollenberger has just sent out the official notification of Rachel’s death. In his email, he noted Rachel’s commitment to her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, her passion for photography and travel, and her prowess at French and psychology.

The University encourages you, even if you are far from campus, to use Columbia resources for support. Contact the Center for Student Advising at 212-854-6378, Counseling and Psychological Services at 212-854-2878, the Office of the University Chaplain at 212-854-1493, or Residential Programs at at 212-854-6805.

Bwog was made aware of Rachel’s passing yesterday, and did not post at the request of University officials hoping to reach all of Rachel’s friends and family.

We send our deepest condolences to Rachel’s family and friends. We encourage everyone to share memories of Rachel in the comments so we can remember her together.

Shollenberger’s email after the jump.

It is with deep regret that I write to inform you of the recent death of one of our students.

Rachel Swett, a rising senior in Columbia College, passed away yesterday as a result of injuries sustained in a skiing accident in New Zealand, where she had been studying abroad. We wish to express our deepest condolences to Rachel’s family, sorority sisters, and friends, and ask that you keep them in your thoughts in the days and weeks ahead.

With the passing of Rachel, we have lost a friend, a remarkable scholar, and a member of the Columbia community who demonstrated special promise. On campus, she was an active member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Rachel studied psychology and French, and her passion for the latter led her to study at Reid Hall in Paris last fall. She loved photography and travel, and had most recently participated in a program through the Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University in New Zealand. I hope as you mourn the loss of Rachel, you will remember her for the way in which she pursued her passions and inspired those around her to do the same.

Whenever there is a death such as this, we are all struck by a wide range of emotions and a deep sense of loss. Especially during this difficult time, please rely on one another, your family, and University offices for support. Even if you are not on or near campus, Columbia resources remain available to you. I encourage you to seek guidance from professional staff by calling the Center for Student Advising (212-854-6378), Counseling and Psychological Services (212-854-2878), or the Office of the University Chaplain (212-854-1493). Residential Programs staff is available to provide support in the residence halls and may be reached by calling 212-854-6805.

In this time of great sadness, I know we are united in grieving the loss of such a spirited member of our community.

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous LITB

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous litb. we love you.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous litb, m’lady

  • Carman 5 Alum says:

    @Carman 5 Alum Thanks for making our floor as nutso as it was freshman year. You won’t be forgotten. <3

    And thank you, BWOG, for waiting to post this news. I don't know how I feel about the Spectator right now.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Litb forever. Love you Rachel.

  • litb says:

    @litb i love you rachel. my sister, my friend, my guardian angel. Thank you BWOG for the responsible and respectful reporting.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Rachel, may you rest in peace.

    You will be missed.


  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous LITB <3

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Rest in peace Rachel. Deepest condolences to your family. You will be remembered and greatly missed.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous What does LITB mean??

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I didn’t know you, but you were a sister to so many, and I know how I would feel if I lost one of mine.

    Rest in peace. My thoughts go out to Rachel’s family and to her sisters.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous is it possible to let us know when the memorial service will be? I know a lot of people would like to mourn and pay our respects.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous My deepest sympathy to her mother, her father, her two brothers, her grand parents, her aunts and uncles, her cousins and other family and friends who knew and loved her.

    It’s not the time in your life but the life in your time. Hers was too short yet brimming with adventure.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous litb always.

  • another carman 5 checking in says:

    @another carman 5 checking in what an enormous presence she was in our lives on carman 5, so dedicated to having fun and bringing us all together; remember that holiday party that got busted BEFORE IT EVEN STARTED? putting together secret santa, putting up the christmas tree (haha, remember that? what a welcome addition to our cozy lounge space) her sense of humor, her pranks….so many memories, rachel, and so much meaning brought to so many lives.

    what a brilliant and intelligent mind; and what a hilarious and warm soul.

    carman 5, axo, and everyone who has known rachel — we’ve all lived our lives with a little more warmth and a few more smiles, thanks to her. and really, thank you rachel. but good god, we’ll miss you.

  • I remember says:

    @I remember We had just arrived in Paris, at Reid Hall last fall, and a group of us went out to dinner. We were all scared to order, so hesitant to speak french, and Rachel just started talking to the waiter, beautifully accented, grammatically complex french just pouring out. We were all so jealous, she really was gifted with languages.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I didn’t know know you too well, but I had facebook stalked you all year, amazed and inspired by your adventures. I can’t believe that this one adventure would be the last one. You will be greatly missed.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Rachel, I am so grateful to have known you and so proud to call you a friend. Your brightness, your bubbly joy, your adoration of those close to you make your loss so, so hard to bear. You meant a lot to so many people, and the pain we feel now is proof of the extent and depth of your touch.

    Je t’aime pour toujours et à jamais. Tu nous manque et tu nous manqueras.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous what a wonderful sister and friend. we will miss you so much. litb.

  • more carman 5 love says:

    @more carman 5 love simultaneously incredibly intelligent, fun, sassy, and simply amazing. i had never had a more amazing time with secret santa than freshman year. you got a whole floor of college frosh to dress up for an evening to have a classy holiday party (which, yes, was busted before it even started). you did everything more than 100% – like when you went to the spice girls concert, you were fully in the zone, costumes and all. even at that very special party second semester frosh year, you were totally committed to your suit and costume, and encouraged everyone to go as hard as you (do you all remember the infamous but not so infamous “costume” party we had?)

    you worked so hard to make carman 5 an amazing, memory filled floor, and you did it; you impacted us so much, and helped bring us together. thank you so much. ill miss you, as will the rest of the many people who you’ve impacted in wonderful ways.

    your life was full of adventure, and many great, great things and i hope it is continuing where ever you are now. you will be forever loved and missed

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous We will miss you, Rachel. LITB

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I only met Rachel four months ago through studying abroad, but she has inspired as many people here in New Zealand as it sounds like she did back home. A beautiful, passionate person – she will truly be loved, missed, and remembered all over the world.

  • carman 5 love says:

    @carman 5 love Rachel–

    I still can’t believe this happened. Sooooooo many memories from our first year, other C5-vers already put some up – but remember when we had that Swiffer/dance party/videotaping session?! and then got some of the boys to do the runway walk?? and our Annex Mexico campaign?! that huge brown couch that I always “studied” (read: slept) on? UNREAL amounts of fun…literally best year, best floor ever. and girl, you legit helped me pass psych w/lindemann – your study guides were AMAZING. you were such an integral part of the love that we all created on that floor, and though we’ve all grown apart in relative amounts, that love WILL ALWAYS be there, which is why it really hurts right now to see pictures of you, to read the memories….like, is this really real?! Am I really typing this goodbye?

    I’m really feeling for your family right now – to lose such an amazing, integral woman in their lives is just so unfair, so nonsensical. Can’t believe I won’t ever see you again, hear your voice again, see anymore facebook photos of all your adventures uploaded by you again….

    love you and love carman 5 forever

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Rachel –

    I only knew you through my good friend but our brief times spent together were a lot of fun. Thanks for having the fire to go on my first “clubbing” excursion and for being such a fun and friendly person that one time we went out to dinner. I didn’t know you too well but you immediately opened up to me and made me feel at ease. I know this world will be missing much without your infectious energy. Rest in peace…

  • CARMAN 5 forever says:

    @CARMAN 5 forever I’ll never forget when Rachel asked me for money to contribute to the Property of Galaxy Cho bracelet campaign. She had such fun ideas, and she always made them happen! The Christmas Party, of course, the classiest affair ever. Her room was always so pleasant: completely decked out with the finest of Ikea novelties, and filled with her positive energy. Such a fun girl to be around!

    Such a loss, you’ll be remembered always and sorely missed.

  • Sejal says:

    @Sejal It’s so hard to read these, but it is wonderful to see how many lives you touched. I love you.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous May you rest in peace. You will be sorely missed.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I only met you once, but I felt like I knew you from the way my best friend talked about you. She and I have been graphically apart for some time now, and you were always there when she needed a friend. Your kindness, passion, and friendship was depicted when she spoke of you. Thank you for your undying friendship and touching her life. You will be greatly missed.

  • Deborah Frost says:

    @Deborah Frost I am totally shocked by this news. Rachel’s family were neighbors when she was young– she was such a beautiful, bright child. My deepest sympathies to her family and friends.

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