(U-WIRE) LOS ANGELES-With the bed stripped of sheets, the desk and closet empty and the nametag taken off the door of his room, Michael Negrete is no longer a resident of UCLA’s Dykstra Hall.
As students deal with the fact that Negrete’s parents have cancelled his housing contract and that it has been more than a month since his disappearance, Dykstra Hall is planning a fund-raising event to benefit the search effort for the missing first-year undeclared student.
In the meantime, police continue to look through Negrete’s computer, hoping to come across information that may shed light on the case.
“People are always calling in, and we follow up on every lead,” said Nancy Greenstein, director of community services for university police.
But as time passes, police are receiving fewer leads, she added.
Negrete disappeared from Dykstra Hall around 4 a.m. on Dec. 10 after logging off a computer game he was playing with a friend across the hall.
Negrete’s family removed his personal belongings from his room on Jan. 6, before students came back from winter break.
A large yellow ribbon with messages written by Negrete’s friends and floormates serves as one of the few remaining visible traces of Negrete’s time spent on the sixth floor of Dykstra Hall.
“Mike, wherever you are, you are in our prayers,” reads one message.
Another person writes, “We miss you a lot and hope you come back soon. The floor is definitely nowhere near the same or as good as it was with you.”
Ross Wolf, a first-year electrical engineering student and Negrete’s best friend on the floor, said some students are opposed to having another student move into Negrete’s old room, but he said he feels this would alleviate some of the tension on the floor.
“It’s better not to have that empty space as a reminder (of Michael’s absence),” Wolf said.
He said that Negrete’s unknown whereabouts added to the usual stress of finals week last quarter.
“You didn’t want to go to sleep because you wanted to know if there was any news,” Wolf said.
While admitting that the situation caused stress on the floor, Wolf said some residents have bonded because of this incident and are trying to move on with their lives.
“People on the floor have accepted the fact that there’s not a whole lot left to be done by being depressed or worried,” he said.
“That’s not how Michael would have wanted us to act,” he added.
As floormates are coping with his disappearance, others are continuing their efforts to help.
The Dykstra Hall Residence Association is in the process of finalizing plans for a fund-raising evening of unlimited video games at the Ackerman Student Union arcade for a flat fee near the end of the month.
“This is high on our priority list because it’s the only way we know of to get involved in the search for Michael,” said DHRA President Darlene Fish.
While search efforts continue, there is still no word on when a new student may occupy Negrete’s old room.
The space is being considered available since his parents cancelled his contract with the Housing Assignment Office, said Laura Riley, resident director of Dykstra Hall.
“I can understand the students’ concern, but this is a decision his parents made, and we’re supporting them,” she said.