Campus mourns second student death

More than 125 people stood side by side, creating a large circle in Ives Hall 119 on Thursday, celebrating the life of Dominic Dei Rossi, a 25-year-old Sonoma State University theatre arts and dance student who died on Jan. 19.

This marks the second time in two weeks the campus has been shaken by the death of a student. 

Just eight days earlier, students filled the ballroom at the Student Center to remember Francis Lynch, 21, who died in his sleep of unknown causes on Jan. 15.

On Thursday, students and others honored Dei Rossi by sharing memories and moments about him. 

“Dominic would have wanted the memorial that we had tonight, with everybody trying to comfort each other,” said Katee Drsydale, a theatre arts and dance student. “I went to his memorial on Saturday in San Carlos. It was nice to see everybody from Dominic’s life that we didn’t know here at Sonoma.”

When walking into Ives 119, family, friends, students and faculty were asked to share an experience, memory, moment, and something they observed or loved about Dei Rossi by writing it down on a slip of paper and share it with the group. 

“Dominic was a really good person; brilliant, intelligent, talented and the most comedic person you will ever meet,” said Carlos Rodriguez, biology major. “Dominic will be a person who will be in my heart forever, I will never forget him.”

Judy Navas, professor and director of Theatre Studies program, lead the conversation on Thursday, organizing the circling and passing around a large pink flying disk, a way for people in the circle to choose the next speaker. 

“Dominic in a nutshell was just charming, talented, witty,” said Renee Hardin, theater arts and dance major and friend of Dei Rossi. “He knew every single line from every song, movie, musical, TV show, play that ever existed and will quote them without anyone know what he was talking about.”

On Sat. 24, a memorial for Dei Rossi was held at the church of the Epiphany in San Carlos with his family.

Dei Rossi was a major influence to many students and friends at Sonoma State, being deeply involved in the theater arts and dance department, and the live action role-playing group on campus. 

“He’s one of those people that surprises you with his wit and his charm,” said Renee Hardin. a theatre and arts major and friends of Dei Rossi. “He was such a huge part of the theatre department, everyone knew him, loved him, everyone thought he was talented.”

Dei Rossi has acted in numerous performances at Sonoma State, including:  “The Importance of Being Earnest” as Dr. Chasuble in October, “How I Learned to Drive,” “Die Fledermaus,” “Loot,” “Hedda Gabler,” and “Stone Cold Dead Serious”. 

Dei Rossi was also a technician for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “She Kills Monsters” and was stage manager for “Ghost Sonata”.

“He always used to help me practice my lines back stage or my British dialogue,” said Drysdale. “He was already an expert at it because, he’s an expert at everything.”

Sonoma State is offering grief counseling for students on campus through Counseling and Psychology Services. More information, including hours and contact information, is available at

“Every building that I have walked in on campus is just a constant reminder of him not being here,” said Drysdale. “It’s as if you can feel this hole in the theatre arts department, we are missing him and we aren’t getting him back.”