Earlier this week, Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor, wrote to students regarding the tragic news of Oxford Brookes student Richard Okorogheye:
We have all been deeply saddened by the death of Richard Okorogheye, a first year student on the Computer Science for Cyber Security programme. It is utterly tragic when any young life is cut short; and I know the particular circumstances around Richard's death have made this situation very difficult to process. Our hearts go out to Richard's family - we have extended our sympathies and support to them - he was clearly a young man with a bright future.
Many of you have since been in contact to ask how you can pass on your condolences to Richard’s family and come together as a community to reflect on this tragic news. I wanted to let you know about a number of ways in which you can do this:
- If you wish to express your sympathies to Richard’s family, you can do this by submitting a message on this Google Form, which will be collated into a book of condolence which we will pass to Richard’s family. The form will be open for a month, until 14 May, after which the book will be given to the family privately from the University.
- The University Chaplain will be holding an online service of remembrance for Richard via Zoom on Monday 19 April at 12 noon, which students and staff are welcome to join as we reflect and draw solace as a community. This online service will have a capacity of 500 people; the service will therefore be recorded and made available to all students and staff afterwards. You can register for the service on this webpage.
- There is a designated space for you to leave flowers, tributes and messages - this is at the Rain Pavilion located on the Piazza leading up to the John Henry Brookes Building, Headington campus. Tributes will be left in place until 26 April, after which messages will be passed to Richard’s family, as appropriate. Please observe Covid-19 social distancing rules if you plan to lay a tribute.
- Some of you have asked if you are able to make a financial contribution to Richard’s family. You may wish to be aware of this fundraiser which has been set up by Richard’s aunt (please note this fundraiser is not connected to the University in any way).
Although the pandemic has made it impossible for us to conduct a physical commemoration for Richard at this time, this is something we will be exploring when the situation changes, in line with any wishes his family may have.
I also want to reassure you that we continue to assist the Police with their ongoing investigation. At this time, the cause of Richard’s death remains unconfirmed and we urge you to avoid speculation which could cause distress to Richard’s family.
We know that the news of Richard’s death is a shock, and can be difficult to take in. Please do look out for your fellow students and consider your own wellbeing too. If you feel you require any emotional support at this time, the University’s Wellbeing Service can help. The academic and support staff are also aware of this sad news and so please do contact your individual Academic Advisers or Student Support Coordinators if you prefer. You can also access 24/7 support from Togetherall.
Despite us feeling physically separated at the moment, it is in difficult times such as these that I appreciate the kindness and connectedness of our Oxford Brookes community, as I see the support and warmth for one of our own, and for each other.