Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Friends and family of Jonathan Shaw remember him as tremendously generous and considerate

By Stuart Foster

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Family of Jonathon Shaw

(Photo provided by the family of Jonathan Shaw and taken by Priya Ghosh)

After University of Massachusetts student Jonathan Shaw’s death, students who met him through the Coalition to End Rape Culture recalled Shaw as an extremely empathetic and considerate friend.

Shaw, a 24 year old senior from Newton majoring in Mathematics who was the conflict mediator and vice president of CERC, was found dead in his Lewis Hall dormitory room on April 27 after police responded to a well-being check.

“I know so many people who said ‘Jon is always there for me’” said Josie Pinto, a rising junior who studies public health and women, gender and sexuality studies. “Everything he did seemed to be to make his friends happy.”

Pinto, who met Shaw in the 2015 fall semester after joining CERC’s executive board, said that Shaw made personal sacrifices such as staying up all night to comfort his friends.

She said that Shaw’s caring nature made him a very successful conflict mediator, and that he was able to bring calmness to situations in ways Pinto said others would not have been able to achieve.

“He was one of the most caring and supportive people I’ve ever come across,” she said. “You know that when he approached you he meant it and was very heartfelt.”

Kim Swift, Shaw’s mother, described her son as a very humble person who did not usually put himself first.

“The Jon I knew was very different from the Jon his friends knew,” Swift said. “He didn’t talk about himself very much, it came as a surprise that he was the vice president of CERC.”

Despite this, Swift said it was apparent that his work at UMass was very important to him, and that he would teach her about topics relevant to CERC just through their interactions.

“We would talk about movies and things like that, and he would tell me about how certain things supported rape culture,” Swift said. “Things that were presented as romantic which really promoted the aspect of no doesn’t mean no.”

Swift also described the close relationship between Shaw and his brother David, who is eight years older than Shaw. Swift said that when Shaw was younger, he really idolized his older brother.

Shaw was also fluent in French, Swift said, and worked hard to maintain his fluency, including going on an exchange trip to France.

Swift said that the death of Shaw’s father, Philip Shaw, had a significant impact on her son.

“He had struggled with depression for a long time. It got worse after his father died,” Swift said.

“I hope he’s at peace now,” she added.

Colby Gavin, a rising junior majoring in political science, met Shaw through CERC and described him as extremely intelligent, kind and patient.

“He was very quiet but he always thought out his words,” Gavin, the treasurer of CERC, said. “You’d never see him be mean, he was a very gentle person.”

Gavin said that Shaw’s position as conflict mediator was unique, and that Shaw approached it with extreme care.

“A lot of the space is survivors, so a lot of the time people have a hard time sharing their stories,” she said. “Jon was very careful about making sure people felt safe.”

Gavin said that everyone she knew who was friends with Shaw had very special moments with him.

“I had experiences like that too where I would talk to him about something that was bothering me and he was very supportive,” she said.

Trip Schultz, who graduated earlier this month as a social thought and political economy major, described Shaw as a founding member of CERC who was very involved with the organization.

“I think what was so great about him was that he was probably one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met,” Schultz said. “He just was loving and you could feel it.”

Scultz described Shaw as being very generous with his time and energy, and as always being there to help other people, even if it required delaying what he was occupied with before.

“He was a gentle, caring person,” Schultz said.

Stuart Foster can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @Stuart_C_Foster.

1 Comment

One Response to “Friends and family of Jonathan Shaw remember him as tremendously generous and considerate”

  1. Stephanie Higgins on May 20th, 2016 8:14 pm

    Thank you for this. Jon is so loved and missed.

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