Fraternity Safety Expert Opines on Student Death at Party

    Farternity Safety Expert WitnessThis case involves a junior at a large state university who died after attending a party at a fraternity house. The student was found unconscious by members of the fraternity after having ingested a large quantity of illegal drugs that were provided by fraternity members. After finding the student, members of the fraternity attempted in vain to revive him by slapping him on the face, as well as splashing him with cold water. Nearly two hours after the student was found to be unconscious fraternity members called for an ambulance, who pronounced the student dead at the scene.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please describe your experience with fraternity safety and compliance, especially as it relates to drugs and alcohol.
    • 2. What are safeguards to prevent incidents like this from occurring?

    Expert Witness Response E-133396

    The incident described should have never happened. I have more than 25 years experience at the campus level in fraternity conduct policy development, education, and enforcement and have directly supervised national fraternity and sorority activities on campus for more than 10 years. I have also served as 4 years as an elected national officer supervising 6 chapters and participating in student leader (chapter officer) training and alumni education. My extensive volunteer work at the chapter level affords me an excellent understanding of the actual functioning of chapters and undergraduate behavior. Further, I am very familiar with the functioning of well run national fraternities, who either through their insurers or risk reduction organizations, have extensive education programs and training to prevent situations described in the scenario. Universities also sponsor education and compliance work; however some universities are more likely to employ a harm reduction model than work on risk and protective factors, making the scenario described more likely to happen. Alcohol problems are predictable and the fraternity in question should have had procedures in place to prevent minors from consuming alcohol. In the best case, the chapter is alcohol-free and does not or should not be hosting events with substances at the facility. The group should have also had sober officers at the event in order to have the capacity to act during an emergency.

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