News

Campus mourns death of former student, Matthew Tembo

Carnegie Mellon lost one of its former students on March 6. Matthew Tembo, 22, was a student at Carnegie Mellon during the 2007–2008 academic year, and was most recently a student at the University of Pittsburgh in Greensburg.

Michael Murphy, the vice president of Campus Affairs, sent an official communication to the campus community in response to Tembo's death. "While Matt was a student here for a short time, he was widely connected across campus and within the fraternity and sorority community, in particular. He was involved with his fraternity's buggy program as a pusher and a mechanic," Murphy wrote. "Among his many activities, he especially loved soccer, both as a player and a fan. Matt's friends describe him as personable and outgoing, making and maintaining friendships easily, with a genuine nature and sincerity that endeared him to others."

Tembo was at Carnegie Mellon's Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house on Morewood Avenue for a birthday celebration on March 6, when he died after “likely drinking too much,” said city police detective Christine Williams at a press conference two weeks ago. Edward Strimlan, chief forensic investigator for the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office, found the death to be the result of ethanol poisoning after performing an autopsy on March 8. "This is the report commonly associated with those who die from drinking too much," Strimlan said, adding that the death was "ruled an accident."

The Health Services websites of both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon offer information about what to do in case of an alcohol emergency. Carnegie Mellon offers amnesty to any student who calls University Police or Emergency Medical Services regarding an intoxicated student, as well as offering the same policy to those who stay with the intoxicated student until help arrives.

"Pitt has alcohol awareness programs in place both on its Oakland campus and in Greensburg, as well as counseling services available through the Office of Student Affairs to assist students who are experiencing any sort of alcohol problems," Pitt spokesman John Fedele told The Pitt News. "Counseling services are available for friends or any other students having trouble coping with the tragedy as well." At Carnegie Mellon, Counseling and Psychological Services is also available to any students affected by Tembo's death.

"The dangers of the use of alcohol are clear," Murphy said. "It is critical for all students to call Campus Police whenever a friend may be at risk. They can be assured that the response will be supportive, not punitive, consistent with our concern for the welfare of all students."