For most of us, March 10 started out just like the beginning of an ordinary week 10 at Drexel. We were all busy getting ready for final projects and exams, immersed in the reality of business as usual on campus. Then came the news that sophomore Stephanie Ross had died suddenly of meningitis. This tragedy shook the campus harder than other recent Drexel student deaths both because it was caused by an infectious disease and because Ross was very well known on campus as a member of Phi Mu.
Many of us on the Editorial Board have friends who knew Ross personally. They had nothing but wonderful things to say about her. They praised her for being herself, having a great sense of humor and being a great friend. Even for those of us who didn’t know her, it brought a tear to our eyes to hear that such an amazing person was taken from us so suddenly and so young. The Triangle extends heartfelt condolences to Ross’ family and friends during this difficult time.
The only thing that could have worsened our grief was the worry that the fatal meningitis infection might spread to others on campus. Fortunately, such concerns were kept to a minimum thanks to the University’s swift response to the tragedy. Members of the Drexel Greek Life community were notified by email the night of March 10, and President John A. Fry emailed the entire University community March 11. These emails contained essential information on how to prevent the possible spread of meningitis and also notified us that antibiotics are available at the Student Health Center for anyone who experiences meningitis symptoms or who may have been in close contact with Ross. It was especially reassuring to learn that Drexel is working closely with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to reach out directly to Ross’ sorority housemates and others who may have been in close contact with her. As is the norm after any student death, Drexel also reminded us of the Counseling Center and other resources available to help members of the campus community cope with grief.
From our point of view, Drexel has handled this incident extremely well. That’s really all you can ask of any university when something like this happens to one of its own. We hope that the University does just as great a job of planning an on-campus memorial service for Ross in the spring. Judging by all the loving comments we’ve heard in person and read on social media this week, we know it will be a beautiful and touching event for an amazing young woman.