Student Voice


April 21, 2024




Loss of UWRF student reminds community how fragile life can be

May 7, 2015

Award-winning journalism

This staff-written opinion won a second place for best editorial in the 2015 Collegiate Better Newspaper Contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation. Read more

The UW-River Falls campus received some unfortunate news on Monday, May 4, as the body of missing student Robert “Bobby” Sontag was found in the Kinnickinnic River in the late afternoon.

It has been a tough semester as Sontag is the second UWRF student to die in the last three months. The campus also lost junior crop and soil science student Dylan Denk on Feb. 22.

By now, must of us realize just how quickly a life can end, especially when it’s least expected. The news of Sontag’s passing comes at a time when students should be rejoicing, whether it be because of graduating or simply finishing another semester at a four-year university, but yet again many of us are left questioning the fragility of life.

With two deaths in one semester, it might be time for the university to consider having a mourning event adopted at UWRF.

Monday night and Tuesday morning were extremely difficult for a lot of people, and it felt odd not having a campus-wide moment of silence or a vigil for the now deceased Sontag. The campus lost one of its own, and the university should be bonding together with a 20- or 30-minute event to remember the loss of a fellow Falcon.

The loss of Sontag also brings up an important issue that unfortunately plagues college towns: underage drinking.

Now, Sontag was 20 years old, which is certainly old enough to make rational decisions and certainly old enough to decide if drinking some alcohol about 10 months before your 21st birthday is a good idea.

Whether Sontag was 20 or 21 (or 45 for that matter) doesn’t make change the fact that an inebriated individual has definite disadvantages when traveling alone in the dark at night.
Sontag’s story is one that the UWRF campus will not soon forget. It is a story of sorrow and, inevitably, one of caution. His story should prove to be a lesson for all those who travel alone at night after a night of heavy drinking.

At this junction, there is no point in speculating what happened that night, that should be left up to the River Falls Police Department. The past is the past, he is gone and he will be missed; but, please be careful these next couple of weeks UWRF students. With the end of finals, or perhaps graduation, comes alcohol consumption.

Remember to drink in moderation and to support each other, don’t leave friends alone at night. Have fun over the next week and try to remember that life is extremely fragile.