The student found dead in his City Hall residence room Wednesday is 20-year-old Ismail Ginwala, according to police documents.
Ginwala, a junior, was discovered after a witness – unnamed in police documents – had not heard from Ginwala for “a couple of days,” according to Metropolitan Police Department documents. The witness found an unresponsive Ginwala at 1:40 p.m. Wednesday.
Police documents label the death a suicide.
Ginwala was the policy director for the GW Roosevelt Institute, a group advocating for a progressive approach to U.S. foreign policy. He had a deep interest in history and politics with aspirations to be an ambassador, Ginwala’s father, Cassim Ginwala said.
His son was fiercely independent and private, Cassim Ginwala added. During a trip to India, where Ginwala’s family is a leader in the United Progressive Alliance party, Ginwala had a chance to meet the prime minster through his family’s connections.
“He told me, ‘No Dad, I’ll meet the prime minister on my own one day.’ That is the kind of person he is,” Cassim Ginwala said. “He wanted to achieve things on his own.”
Ginwala said his son, an international affairs major, was very aware of “social injustices,” in the world, a characteristic he believes developed during a trip to Africa when Ginwala was young.
“He was very humble, very down-to-earth and a great person,” Cassim Ginwala said. “He wanted to help others.”
Ginwala joined the College Democrats during his freshman year, debating politics for the organization and later running for a position on the executive board.
Ginwala also interned for Bill Hedrick, a Democratic nominee for the 44th Congressional District of California in 2008.
“He didn’t come from a classical debate background but he definitely made up for a lack of experience in debating with a lot of heart,” Alex Wright, the political affairs director for the CDs, said. “He spoke from the heart. He knew there were injustices out there and he tried his best to argue what he felt passion for.”
Wright added that Ginwala was a “fun guy” with “a kind heart.”
Amish Shah, a fellow member of the Roosevelt Institute and a friend of Ginwala, said the California native possessed a extremely “intelligent wit.”
“Ismail was just kind. I can’t think of a time… when he was not the nicest guy in the room,” Shah said. “He was always the kid that was driven to create ideas and progress.”
Nicole Scro, another member of the Roosevelt Institute said Ginwala was a “deep-thinker,” making him a great friend and conversationalist, but said his disdain for partying caused the junior grief.
“I knew that there was a struggle inside of him,” she said of Ginwala’s struggle to adjust to GW’s party scenes.
But Shah and Scro shot back against rumors that Ginwala was a recluse, both saying he was “extremely social.”
The University has yet to announce a memorial service, but Shah said he and a group are planning a service for next week.
Ginwala is survived by his father Cassim Ginwala, his mother Luz Ginwala and a 16-year-old brother Shahid Ginwala.
-Emily Cahn contributed this report.