Hundreds gather to remember USF student

By: Eric Moeller

TAMPA – Hundreds of mourners gathered at USF’s Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza on Monday night to celebrate the life of Rachel Futterman, a student who died earlier that day after being hospitalized with bacterial meningitis.

“It is not only the Futterman family that is mourning today, but the USF family as well.” University President Judy Genshaft said to the somber crowd, estimated at about 500 people.

Along with Genshaft, Futterman’s memorial featured remarks from members of USF student government, various Greek organizations and several members of the Delta Gamma sorority. Several local television networks were in also in attendance.

“I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Rachel but I know she was a great person because of all the people who have gathered here today to mourn her,” student body president Garin Flowers said.

The most shocking aspect of Futterman’s death was its suddenness.

Bacterial meningitis is an aggressive affliction that can spread throughout the body in as little as 12 hours. The disease can be treated if detected early, but its flu-like symptoms often cause victims to shrug it off as not that serious until it’s too late.

Futterman first complained of a stomachache Thursday night. Early Saturday morning, her sorority sisters took the 19-year-old Delta Gamma member to the hospital after she began suffering from seizures. On Sunday, Futterman slipped into a coma and she was pronounced dead at University Community Hospital on Monday.

The most emotional part of the memorial occurred when several members of Futterman’s sorority approached the podium to make their remarks.

Between pauses to compose herself, Megan McNerney, president of the Greek organization the Pan-Hellenic Council, expressed sorrow for the loss and conveyed the impact it has had on the University’s Greek society.

“The loss of Rachel has affected the hearts and homes of every sorority woman on campus,” McNerney said.

Following McNerney’s remarks, approximately 50 members of Futterman’s Delta Gamma sorority in attendance performed an emotional recital of the Delta Gamma ritual song titled “Tell me why”.

To close the ceremony, Nicky Spiwak, the executive director of the Hillel Jewish Student Center, led the crowd in a reading of the Mourner’s Kaddish, a traditional Jewish prayer often recited at funerals and memorials.

In memory of Rachel Futterman, the USF Pan-Hellenic Council has opened a fund at the USF Federal Credit Union in which donations can be made in her name. All donations will be given to the Futterman family.


6 Responses to “Hundreds gather to remember USF student”

  1. Priscilla Says:

    Sad, but great story. No bad comments at all.

  2. Christine Wolstenholme Says:

    Thorough reporting, sad story obviously, but very well done. A more recent story to what we’ve been hearing.

  3. usfadvancedreporting Says:

    I did not know about her Jewish hertiage and Hillel’s envolvment in her memorial, so that gives a different perspective than the other articles that I read.

  4. Aaron Says:

    You have a good lead with great quotes. Solid reporting on this sad story.

  5. usfadvancedreporting Says:

    great job. it is a sad story but what else do we know about her besides her sorority. what was her major, what did she plan to do in her future career?

  6. usfadvancedreporting Says:

    Great job overall. Good quotes and reporting.

    Make sure you check AP style and some of the spellings of things, and although it is a sad story, try not to use words or generalizations that make you as the reporter seem involved in the story, for example, “The most emotional part of the memorial…” It sounds fine if you attribute it to someone, but when you say it as the reporter, it sounds a little subjective.

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