Students honor deceased friends

Two GW students who passed away last year will be remembered on campus thanks to efforts to organize memorials in their honor.

Friends of Jennifer Dierdorff and Hasan Hussein, who both took their own lives last spring semester, are working on projects to commemorate the two students. Dierdorff’s memorial fund plans to name a bench in her memory, while the Muslim Student Association will hold a writing conference next month to celebrate Hussein’s passion for poetry.

Although a plaque on the Marvin Center’s ground floor hangs in memory of students who pass away while attending GW, friends of those who have died said more can be done to honor their peers. Seven GW students have died in accidents or suicides since December 2003.

“I thought Jenny deserved more,” said junior Steve Simburg, Dierdorff’s ex-boyfriend

Simburg founded the memorial fund in memory of Dierdorff in December and created a registered student organization to memorialize her.

He said the group is currently trying to raise enough funds to dedicate a bench that they hope to place to across the street from The Hatchet, but an alternate site in the Academic Center may have to be utilized. Dierdorff was a Hatchet production manager, group director of the Emerging Leaders Program and member of the Alpha Phi sorority.

“I really want this project to focus on the positive things she brought to the community,” Simburg said.

Anyone interested in contributing to the fund can contact Simburg at ssimburg@gwu.edu

Simburg said that while the group has raised almost $2,500 to date, it is still a ways off from meeting the $10,000 price necessary to place the bench and “beautify” the surrounding area with a plaque and flowers. The price pays for indefinite University maintenance.

The dedication to remember lost friends is also the inspiration for next month’s writing conference to honor Hussein.

A freshman English major, Hussein was known to friends as a “quiet person who expressed himself through his writing,” MSA Vice President Sultan Chaudry said.

The April 29 contest will evaluate student writing samples and award cash prizes to winners, who will be chosen by a panel of GW professors. Chaudry said the MSA, which is co-sponsoring the event with the Student Association and the University Writing Program, wants to inspire students to write with the kind of dedication that Hussein showed in his life. Students needed to submit their entries by Wednesday.

Chaundry said, “we’re doing this because it’s something Hasan liked to do, being a writer himself,” Chaudry said.

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