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MSU graduate student, 42, found dead in apartment

March 18, 2008


A 42-year-old MSU student was found dead Friday in his Spartan Village apartment from what a relative called “an accidental death from medication.”

Police discovered the body of Timothy Haslett, a second-year African American and African studies doctoral student, after they received a call to check on his welfare, MSU police Sgt. Florene McGlothian-Taylor said.

McGlothian-Taylor said there does not appear to be any foul play involved in the death.

An autopsy was performed Saturday, but results are still pending. Ingham County Medical Examiner Dean Sienko said toxicology results could be available as early as next week.

Adam Haslett, Timothy’s brother, said his sibling was an ambitious person with many unique interests who always had a love for learning.

“When I was 12, he would have been 16 or 17, I didn’t know the difference between fiction and nonfiction,” Haslett said. “He reached down to the book case and pulled a book of Friedrich Nietzsche off.”

Adam Haslett said his brother identified with music and had an enormous collection of vinyl records. Friends said he was deeply involved in African American studies and also enjoyed writing.

“He was amazing,” said Nikita Williams, a fellow graduate student in the Department of African American and African Studies. “Once you get to know him, he can talk forever … he loved to discuss anything and everything about his field.”

Chris Doss, who participated with Haslett in I Am My Brother’s Keeper Ministries, a mentoring program at the Malcolm X Academy in Detroit, said Haslett was a down-to-earth person who wanted equality for everyone.

“He was the kind of person who was for the people,” Doss said. “He (struck) me as very knowledgeable about African American culture and slavery.”

Haslett was born in London and lived there before moving to Kingston, Mass., at age 5. He returned to the United Kingdom to attend high school at Oxford and received his undergraduate degree at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., before attending graduate school at New York University in Manhattan. After graduating from MSU, Adam Haslett said his brother wanted to become a teacher at an inner city school.

John H. McClendon III, director of the Department of African American and African Studies, mentored Haslett. He said Haslett had a deep social conscience, even when his beliefs went against society’s norms.

“The question of principle always superseded the question of popularity,” McClendon said. “He represented the hallmark of what it means to be a person who is passionate, committed and dedicated to the field.”

A memorial service is planned for 3 p.m. Friday at Friends Meeting in Cambridge, Mass. A reception will immediately follow the service.

Staff writer Abby Lubbers contributed to this report.

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