by Matt Muñoz and Elaine Ezekiel
Noah Kokoszka, a 22 year-old senior from Brighton, Mich., died Monday afternoon. According to an e-mail sent to K faculty, staff and students by K College President Eileen B. Wilson-Oyelaran, Kokoszka “died in an apparent suicide in his off-campus apartment.”
When The Index arrived at Kokoszka’s residence at 214 Douglas at 6:08 p.m., two Kalamazoo Public Safety cars and one white Kalamazoo Crime Lab van were already parked in front of the house.
A series of crime lab technicians, ambulance drivers, police officers and detectives walked in and out of the house through a second floor exterior staircase. At 6:35 p.m., Wilson-Oyelaran and two other adults walked into 214 Douglas through the front door. All personnel refrained from comment on the incident and could not confirm a suicide.
At approximately 7:08 p.m., the president’s office sent out the campus-wide announcement via email, identifying Kokoszka and enumerating upcoming forums for grieving and commemoration. At 7:00 p.m. the College held a special gathering in the Olmsted Room for Kokoszka’s friends and teammates. Kokoszka was a biology major, former Residential Assistant and football team captain.
“The College wanted to inform the people closest to him as much as was possible before the announcement went out to the campus,” said Director of Communications James Van Sweden.
After the emotional gathering, football head coach Jamie Zorbo and head athletic trainer Scott Michel stayed behind to grieve.
“Noah was a great leader. He was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met,” said Zorbo. “He had a unique sense of humor; if you didn’t know him, you would think he was being serious.”
“He had a laid-back style; he was always level-headed,” said Michel. “He’d been through a lot injury-wise, and he kept such a positive attitude.”
“It’s hard not to think [about] why Noah would do something like this,” said Zorbo. “Instead of making myself go crazy, I just encourage people to remember Noah for all the good things he did and represented and help each other through the grieving process.”
“Our doors are always open for anybody,” said Michel, “because in the end, we’re family.”
Following the more personal gathering in the Olmsted Room, at 8:00 p.m., several administrators and councilors assembled there to meet with mourning community members.
Around 9:30 p.m., an impromptu candle vigil gathered on the steps of Stetson Chapel where more than 100 students wrote messages on illuminated paper bags and stood in silence.
According to the president’s e-mail, Stetson Chapel will host another informal gathering at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in order “to be with one another and to help each other.”