Lawrence community mourns the loss of student

Amelia Perron

The Lawrence community has been shaken by the untimely death of one of its esteemed students, Kwabena “Kobby” Buanya.
Buanya’s death occurred September 8th at the Buchanan-Kiewit Recreation Center pool during a regular, supervised practice with the men’s soccer team. Although the team was working in the shallow end of the pool, Buanya became separated from the group and was discovered drowned at the deep end of the pool. The preliminary autopsy found the cause of death to be accidental drowning, and findings from the subsequent police investigation are consistent with that conclusion. More testing has yet to be completed, and it may be another month or longer before more detailed information is available.
Buanya was an active and involved member of the Lawrence community. A sophomore from Ghana, he was involved not only in the men’s soccer team, but was a brother of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, a board member of Lawrence International, and a member of the Judicial Board. Dean of Students Nancy Truesdell says, “All the students who knew him say the same thing: that he was very friendly and always had a smile on his face.” Truesdell also observed that he loved Lawrence and was happy to be here. To the seemingly few students who didn’t know Buanya personally, he was recognizable as the MC and a dancer in last year’s LI Cabaret, performing an intense and dramatic Ghanian “Crack Dance.”
As challenging as Buanya’s death has been to Lawrence students, the response of the community to the tragedy has been encouraging, says Truesdell. “I’ve been very impressed with the whole community’s response to this tragic accident.” She compares it to recent national tragedies, in terms of the ensuing unity and support, but says the difference is that “more people here are personally affected.” The tragedy will “hit people at different times,” Truesdell anticipates, as students return to a campus changed by its loss. Predicting students’ ongoing need for emotional support, the Health and Counseling Center has been offering assistance, which a number of students have already used.
Students and staff rallied together immediately to provide support for Buanya’s family as well. The soccer team quickly began collecting donations to assist his family with expenses during this difficult time, and they had already organized a fundraiser car wash within a day of his death. There are collection jars around campus in various locations, and donations can also be sent to the Office of the Dean of Students, with checks made out to “Lawrence University: The Fund for Kobby.” “I’m continually impressed with how caring and supportive Lawrence students are in difficult times,” Says Truesdell,
Many students, looking for closure and a chance to commemorate a lost friend and peer, are anticipating a campus memorial service. Dean Truesdell, in accordance with the standard Lawrence plan for dealing with campus-wide crises, is in the “planning stages” of organizing a service, talking with students and friends of Buanya to create a meaningful event. As his family is planning on being involved and present for the memorial, a date will not be set until they decide when they can be here. When the details have been determined, students and staff will be notified in anticipation of a campus-wide response. As Truesdell observed, “Everyone is touched by this somehow.