NEW YORK – The daughter of a Silicon Valley executive on Saturday became the fourth New York University (search) student to take a fatal plunge this academic year.
Sophomore Diana Chien, 19, jumped from the roof of her boyfriend's 24-story apartment building after quarreling with him.
"This is difficult news for our community that has known an unprecedented level of sadness this year," said Marc Wais, NYU's vice president for student affairs. "The untimely deaths of young people are a tragic national problem and we are not immune."
University spokesman John Beckman said, "Any time a young life is taken from a close-knit community like ours, it's a grievous loss."
Students said the university needed to do more to address the problems that accompany life at a sprawling city campus.
"At other schools, you have to adjust to school," said freshman Brittney Filek-Gibson, 18. "The added burden of coming here is that you also have to adjust to New York City."
Senior Vasudha Talla, 21, agreed, saying:
"At NYU, it's really difficult to make friends. There's no campus life. Everyone is isolated. It can be very lonely."
Chien, whose father, T.W. Chien, is a senior VP at TiVo (search), the digital-video-recorder company, grew up in Cupertino, Calif.
An uncle, Young Wei, said she was a member of her high school's track, gymnastics and basketball teams, and won admission to UCLA, Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania.
She chose UCLA but transferred in January to NYU so she could be near her boyfriend, Christopher Lam. But the relationship became rocky, with the pair quarreling and her threatening suicide several times, police sources said.
Diana is the fourth NYU student to die in a plunge during the current academic year.
On Sept. 12 — the day after his 20th birthday — Jeff Skolnik of Evanston, Ill., committed suicide by jumping from the 10th floor of the university's Bobst Library (search).
On Oct. 10, Stephen Bohler, 18, of Irvine, Calif., leaped from the same library floor. His death was ruled accidental because he was under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs.
On Oct. 18, sophomore Michelle Gluckman jumped from the sixth floor of a Greenwich Village apartment building after smoking a joint and declaring, "I can't take it anymore." Her death is still under investigation.
Diana, an economics major, began dating Lam a year ago.
On a Web site he set up last year, there was an angry message from a visitor identified only as "Berkeley94704." "94704" is the general Zip code for Berkeley.
"Christopher Brandon Lam is a liar," the message said. "He tells his girlfriend lies all the time and has no respect for other people. So whoever you are, don't be friends with this bleep-hole. He'll only make your life more miserable."
Lam wouldn't comment earlier in the week, and didn't return messages yesterday.