Student dies on Barcelona trip
By Madeline Zeiss, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, January 9, 2012
Crispin Scott, a member of the Class of 2013, died while studying abroad in Barcelona on a program not affiliated with the College, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson said in a statement to The Dartmouth.
“We learned of [Scott’s] death this morning and extend our sincere and most regrettable condolences to his family at this time,” Johnson said. “[Scott] will certainly be remembered. Efforts are focused to reach out to those who knew him, his family and certainly other students who were abroad with him in Barcelona.”
Johnson said that Scott was studying abroad on the Academy of Liberal and Beaux-Arts program run by Portland State University, which runs its 10-week Winter term from the beginning of January to the end of March, according to the program’s website.
“[Scott’s] death has devastated all of us involved with the program, and as a parent, I can only begin to imagine how his family must be feeling,” ALBA Director Charles Grant said in an email to The Dartmouth. “All we can do now is offer our deepest sympathy and condolences to them and his friends and fellow students.”
ALBA program staff are currently planning a memorial service in Barcelona in the upcoming week, Grant said.
The specific time and cause of Scott’s death are still unknown, though an investigation is currently ongoing, Johnson said in an interview with The Dartmouth.
“I do not have any information about the specific cause or time of death,” Johnson said. “Barcelona police are investigating as they do for all untimely deaths, and like everyone else, we are waiting for more information.”
Grant confirmed the ongoing investigation in Barcelona and said he knew “frustratingly little” information.
On Friday evening, Scott was at a “large gathering of ALBA students — 40 or more — at an upscale seafront hotel, which devolved into smaller groups,” Grant said.
Scott was with several friends, all of whom returned to their own apartments except Scott, according to Grant. Scott failed to return to his apartment and did not show up for an ALBA orientation session at noon on Saturday, at which time the police were notified, Grant said.
“I have no idea how they conducted the search, but [Scott’s] body was apparently found in an apartment — not one of ours — some way from the original hotel location later that day,” he said.
The police would only confirm that “there did not appear to have been any physical violence and he appeared to have died in his sleep,” Grant said.
While Portland State has run the program in Barcelona for 25 years, “there was always a subconscious fear that some terrible event like this might occur,” he said.
Grant said he hopes the lessons from Scott’s death will prevent similar tragedies in the future.
“My hope is that when the full facts of this case are revealed, we will use the lesson to reduce and hopefully eliminate these truly dangerous risks for all of our students,” Grant said. “I am and will always be convinced of the enormous benefits from studying abroad, but we must do more educating to make it safer for every single student.”
Scott, a Seattle native, was a member of Phi Delta Alpha fraternity and the Dartmouth men’s rugby team. Phi Delt served as a gathering place for students on Sunday from 3 to 8 p.m. Undergraduate deans, counselors and clergy were present to provide support, according to a campus-wide email sent by Johnson on Sunday afternoon. Many students gathered to console one another and commemorate Scott’s life at the event.
“We are all deeply saddened by the news,” Phi Delt President Michael Root ’12 said in a statement to The Dartmouth. “Crispin was a great brother and friend to us all and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
Dartmouth is in contact with the ALBA progam and is sending a Dartmouth representative to Barcelona on Monday, Johnson said.
“We are primarily checking in with students and making sure those students are fine,” Johnson said. “We will be certainly extending support to parents and work with authorities with respect to what happened to [Scott].”
The College will offer grief counseling services on Monday afternoon to students on the ALBA program and the Dartmouth Language Study Abroad program in Barcelona, Johnson said. Dick’s House will offer extended hours for students on campus who want to seek counseling.
“We are mobilizing community directors, chaplains and dean staff to create support on a number of different levels in the community,” Johnson said.
Kevin Kennedy ’13, who met Scott at an event for accepted Dartmouth students in Seattle their senior year of high school, spoke of warm memories of his friendship with Scott, whom he said “constantly had a smile on his face.”
“There was constantly a joke to be laughed at when you were with Crispin — sometimes it was on him, sometimes it was on you, but the beauty of it was that it couldn’t have mattered less,” Kennedy said. “He, better than anyone else I have ever known, knew how to find comedy in a world where most people are too busy moving forward to sit back and laugh.”
Katie Schade ’13, who attended middle and high school with Scott at University Preparatory Academy in Seattle, said they met in their eighth grade earth sciences class.
Schade described attending her sophomore prom with Scott as “one of her fondest memories.”
“It was maybe not the best because we were so awkward, but it was the start of our friendship in the sense that it is today,” Schade said.
Attending Dartmouth with Scott “was a great adventure for us both,” she said. “We were friends since middle and high school, but going across the country to Dartmouth, we stuck together and were a network for each other.”
Scott was “one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and one of the smartest people in our entire high school,” Schade said.
“He was so genuinely humble about his intelligence and loved to help other people and didn’t make people feel bad about not being as intelligent as he,” Schade said. “In our Calculus 2 class in high school, there were five of us and every day the teacher would give Crispin something to do because he was so far ahead of everyone else.”
In addition to his intelligence, Schade also spoke highly of his easygoing and social personality.
“He wanted to make other people around him feel comfortable, and he always wanted to be the center of the party, and he always was,” Schade said.