By Nate Sanford
A Western student found the body of a man in his mid-20s outside the fence of The Outback Farm, according to university spokesman Paul Cocke, Police Chief Darren Rasmussen and a Western Alert message sent out just before 4 p.m. The incident was reported to University Police at 1:58 p.m. Thursday, March 5.
John Tuxill, faculty advisor for The Outback, said three students were at the Outback Farm in preparation for a work party readying the farm for spring season when the body was found.
The man’s body was removed from the site shortly after 4 p.m.
University Police did not believe the death was due to an act of violence, according to the Western Alert. Rasmussen said the police could not identify the man’s race or ethnicity, or provide other details at this time.
A call to the medical examiner’s non-emergency line was answered by a police dispatcher who had no comment. Information on the cause of death has not been released, and the Whatcom County Medical Examiner’s office is closed on Thursday afternoons.
A large area near The Outback was cordoned off with police tape on Thursday afternoon. A number of students observed from the windows of Buchanan Towers, which overlook the scene. The area has reopened to foot traffic.
Kylie Maioriello, a Buchanan Towers resident, observed the scene from the window of her dorm room on the fifth floor.
“A lot of the people here are just really confused. Some people are worried just because of the proximity of the body. We were wondering if it was someone we might know,” Maioriello said.
Maioriello said the incident has been difficult to process.
“After all the police cars left we actually had a friend come down to our room and we had a discussion about and how uncomfortable and strange it is. Especially not knowing what’s going on,” she said.
Terri Kempton, the AS Outback Farm manager, said in an email that the campus counseling center has been advised and is available if students want or need support.
A second Campus Alert sent a little before 6 p.m. stated that the University Police Department asks people with any knowledge of the incident to call 360-650-3555.
The Western Front will provide updates once more information becomes available.