The UEA Law Society have come under fire following the decision to continue with a T-shirt social after being informed of the news of one of their cohort passing. Jess Fairweather, a 20 year old first year, was found dead at his on-campus accommodation in Kett House on Tuesday 11 October.

A coroner’s report from Senior Coroner for Norfolk, Jacqueline Lake, later confirmed that the cause of death was hanging. Fairweather has been described by the university as an ‘engaging, very bright’ student who was ‘making a real contribution both academically and as a member of the student Law Society.’

It is believed that the Law School were the first to be informed of Fairweather’s identity in the days that followed, due to Fairweather being a Law student. Upon being told of these circumstances, the UEA Law Society consulted with both the SU and the Head of Law to decide what course of action was best to take with regards to their upcoming T-shirt social the following week. A conclusion was met that going ahead with the social would be the best course of action.

Despite this, some students found this decision to be insensitive to Fairweather’s recent passing, reacting angrily to the Facebook announcement. This in particular seemed to strike a chord with first years who the social was aimed at, raising questions as to what the university protocol should be in times of crisis such as this.

In a statement on behalf of the UEA Law Society, Activities and Opportunities Officer Oli Gray said: ‘UEA is a really tight-knit university where the loss of any member really affects those who were their friends, neighbours and coursemates. Grieving loss and celebrating the life and friendships you shared with a person are both complex and deeply personal processes, and we respect that, for some people, being around others and carrying on are important parts of that process, particularly early on in coping with loss.

UEA Law want to mark the passing of Fairweather and we’ll be working with them in the coming weeks to allow their members to figure out what that looks like for them. Their decision to continue with their social was carefully considered, and made it possible for those who wanted to be near friends at such a time.’

Speaking to Concrete, a representative for the university said: ‘Jess Fairweather, a first-year Law student, died in his UEA accommodation on 11 October. There were no suspicious circumstances and we are assisting in any way we can with the inquest which has been adjourned until early next year. All our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.’

If you have been affected by the passing of Jess Fairweather, support for both students and staff is available from Student Support Services and can be arranged through the online referral form, by phoning 01603 592651, or emailing studentsupport@uea.ac.uk.

If you are experiencing low mood or suicidal ideations, you can call Norwich Samaritans on 01603 611 311 (local call charges apply) or on their free number at 116 123. Papyrus UK specifically work with young people dealing with these issues, and can be contacted via telephone on 0800 068 41 41 or online at https://papyrus-uk.org.


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