Colleges mourn students at vigil

Hundreds of Claremont Colleges students, faculty, and staff honored the lives of CMC students Jeremy Peterson and Eric Cramer at a candlelight vigil Wednesday.

The memorial on Butler Plaza outside the Bauer Center began with a reflection on loss and grief from Pastor Jeff Liou. CMC President Hiram E. Chodosh followed with a tribute to Peterson and Cramer’s many passions and ambitions.


Classes at CMC are continuing as scheduled, with faculty accommodating students who need time or space to grieve.

This week, students have been able to speak with on-site counselors in Heggblade Center and through Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services. Psychologists have also been available on campus to conduct grief and loss sessions for faculty and staff.

After hours, students may continue to call (909) 621-8202 to speak to a therapist. Staff and faculty can access the Employee Assistance Program at (800) 234-5465 for 24-hour support.

Peterson, of Princeton, N.J., was found dead in his dormitory room Feb. 19, followed by Cramer, of San Diego, on Feb. 26. Peterson’s death in Phillips Hall is being investigated by the coroner. There is no indication of a suicide and foul play is not suspected. Cramer’s death in Beckett Hall was caused by self-harm.

Peterson was a dreamer, Chodosh said, who loved skydiving and chess. Cramer was a scientist who “pursued adventures through new bodies of knowledge,” be it a love for Bach or watching videos of surgery at age 11. Cramer also wrote his college essay about finding opportunities in simple places like benches.

“I won’t play chess again without thinking about Jeremy in a Trenton Boys and Girls Club. I won’t sit on a bench without thinking about Eric’s three directives: know someone new, know someone better, know yourself better,” Chodosh said.

Parents of Peterson and Cramer were also present at the vigil. Jason Peterson ’85 spoke with fondness about being pushed to explore skydiving with his son. With each new challenge, he said his love and appreciation for Jeremy deepened.

“He was not only my son, he was my friend,” Jason Peterson said.

Chodosh assured the community that it was OK to be confused about what to feel at a painful moment like this. The crowd then walked together with lit candles to the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum.  

“When we walk together down to the Ath tonight, I know we will each be feeling something different,” Chodosh said. “The differences don’t matter. What matters is that we are all here feeling them, together, walking down the mall in a single direction. To remember. To resolve. To take Jeremy and Eric with us, to a place we love.”

Photo by Talia Bernstein, The Student Life