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Campus Mourns Loss of Student Who ‘Loved Everyone’

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Popular philosophy major killed on University Avenue Dec. 4

The Southwestern community is mourning the loss of senior philosophy major Robert Atkinson, who was struck and killed by a car the evening of Dec.4 as he was crossing University Avenue. Atkinson was a leader on campus and was involved with numerous organizations, including the Theatre for Social Justice group, Kappa Sigma fraternity, and SU Native. He had spent several summers working on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in St. Francis, South Dakota.

Atkinson also was the national legislative director for the Student Peace Alliance, and had organized several peace marches in Austin. He was doing an internship this semester with State Rep. Lon Burnam.

“Rob was a leader for the things that count and matter,” said Jerry Brody, vice president for Student Life.

Atkinson had just completed his capstone project for his philosophy major, and was in the process of applying to graduate schools to study public policy. Last summer, he was one of 15 Texas students selected to participate in the Inman Scholars Summer Leadership Program at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.

On Dec. 5, more than 200 students, faculty members and staff members gathered in the Campus Center to share their remembrances of Atkinson. All had been touched by his message of change through theatre, peace and philosophy.

“If anyone was going to change the world, it was going to be Rob,” said theatre major Zac Carr.

A second such private gathering was held Dec. 6 in the Howry Center. A public memorial service for Atkinson will be held on Friday, Jan. 23, at 4 p.m. in the Lois Perkins Chapel. His family plans to have a memorial service in their hometown of San Diego, Calif., Jan. 10. Expressions of sympathy may be sent to Atkinson’s parents, John and Janice, at johnandjan@afdop.org.

The chapel is open 24 hours a day for those who would like to use it. Counselors are available during working hours at the Robertson Center, and after hours by calling the SU Police at 512-863-1944.

Kappa Sigma fraternity has a memorial page for Atkinson set up on its web page at http://iotachapter.org/. Members of his fraternity and others have vowed to continue pushing the initiatives Atkinson set forth.A special Robert Patrick Atkinson Facebook account also has been set up.

Flags on campus were lowered to half-mast Dec. 5 in honor of Atkinson. Donations in his memory of may be sent to the Peace Alliance, P.O. Box 70095, Rochester Hills, MI 48307. Be sure to specify that the donations benefit the Student Peace Alliance.

“During his time at Southwestern, Rob became part of our family and we will truly miss him,” said SU Native Advisor Ben Nava.