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Columbia Spectator Staff

Eric Harms, a 19-year-old first year in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, died Saturday afternoon, leaving Columbia stunned and shaken. break Harms was found on the eighth floor of his dorm in the mid-afternoon. He took his life by hanging himself in a Hartley Hall bathroom. Detectives from the New York Police Department's 26th Precinct were called in to aid the Department of Public Safety in the investigation. Residential Life members held an emergency meeting by 6 p.m., and Dean of Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger announced the death of an unidentified SEAS student by e-mail several hours later, before the University released the name the next day. Harms' family was contacted early Sunday morning. Harms, a Minnesota native, was described by friends and faculty as an active and well-liked campus member—a talented jazz musician who represented his class in the Engineering Student Council and an energetic friend and performer who loved science fiction. "In the last several hours, we have begun to remember and cherish Eric's place at Columbia," Shollenberger wrote in an e-mail Sunday. Interim Dean of SEAS Gerald Navratil described Harms as "the kind of person who was always helping other people ... the kind of person we would basically go out of our way to recruit to Columbia. It's a tremendous loss for all of us." Harms' death was met with an outpouring of grief as classmates grappled with their loss. While Student Affairs and Navratil both said that concrete plans for memorial services are still being developed, informal gatherings to honor Harms began on Sunday. The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship held a prayer service for Harms and his family, and faculty members in the Living Learning Center brought residents together to support those who lived with Harms, with more to follow this week. The Columbia Urban Experience, in which Harms participated this summer, held a memorial service Sunday night where they shared memories of their classmate. Navratil said he met with Harms' parents Sunday afternoon and attended a small gathering organized by Professor Andrew Smyth, the faculty-in-residence of the LLC. According to Navratil, Harms' parents were interested in meeting their son's friends and teachers, and they said that their son loved Columbia. They called the University "the place" to come to do what he wanted to do, Navratil said. "In his short time here, he made a positive contribution to University life," he said. University President Lee Bollinger issued a statement Sunday expressing his sympathies and encouraging students to seek campus support. "There is nothing more tragic than the loss of one of our students," Bollinger said. "We are devastated. No one should feel the slightest hesitation in seeking out all of the offers of help within the University. I have communicated our deepest condolences to the parents." Counseling services broadened their on-call staff and offered extended hours in the wake of Saturday's tragedy, as the Counseling and Psychological Services, advising deans, Office of the University Chaplain, and Office of Residential Programs continued to be available throughout Sunday. Preparations to honor Harms continue Monday in a planning meeting at 8 p.m. in the Low Library Visitor's Center, and at a General SEAS meeting with the administration in Lerner Hall's Satow Room at 9:45 p.m. Throughout the day, ESC '12 will be discussing plans for events with organizations Harms was involved in, such as CUE. Jessica Hills, Daniel Amzallag, and James Tyson contributed to this article. news@columbiaspectator.com

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