In the aftermath of a tragedy that hit home with the John Carroll community last year, some kind of closure may have finally been reached.
On Jan. 1, 2011 Matt Crozier, a former JCU student, was at a party in his hometown of Philadelphia on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The party itself took place at the residence of the national fraternity Pi Kappa Sigma, Alpha Chapter. After falling 30 feet at the party on New Year’s Eve, Crozier was taken to the hospital only to be pronounced dead later on, as a result of fatal injuries he had suffered from the fall.
Now, nearly two years later, the fraternity also known as “Skulls” is trying to bring an end to the wrongful death lawsuit they faced from Crozier’s parents. The national fraternity declared the Alpha Chapter of Pi Kappa Sigma closed on Sept. 16, but that seems to be just the beginning. Now, the house in which they live on the campus of UPenn will be evicted, forcing each and every brother living there to seek alternative housing following this fall semester.
It was a situation the brothers at UPenn took very hard. “I guess we kind of had a feeling that the eviction was a possibility, but when it happened, it was still a huge shock,” Skulls president and senior Chuck Schmitt told The Daily Pennsylvanian.
The brothers will be able to stay in the house until this semester concludes but there is no word yet on whether or not the university will help those who must find housing in the spring.
John Carroll University’s Dean of Students, Sherri Crahen, gave her opinion on the occurrence: “Based on my limited knowledge of the situation, yes [the closing of the house] seems like an appropriate action,” she said.
It may not be the ideal situation for the brothers of Pi Kappa Sigma at UPenn, but it was one that was out of their hands.
“I don’t know how many current students really are that in touch with the closing of the chapter house. To my understanding, this was a chapter where no alcohol was allowed in the house, and it’s very clear that they violated that rule; so for me, I think it’s much more about the national chapter and their responsibilities,” Crahen said.
Holly Mittelmeier John Carrol’s assistant director of student activities and liason for Greek life, added her thoughts as well. “The PKS national headquarters were most likely following the policies and protocols they have set in place for situations like these.”
The fact the Crozier’s death occurred at a fraternity house gives JCU an opportunity to analyze what went wrong. Obviously fraternities and sororities at JCU do not live in off campus houses, which is something Crahen and other administrators take pride in.
“It’s hard to make comparisons because obviously the University of Pennsylvania is a much different higher education institution than John Carroll is. They have houses off campus that are owned and operated by fraternities and we don’t have that. We certainly have students who are in fraternities and sororities [that] live on campus, on different floors in the residence halls, and I think that’s a very different environment than having a house off campus. From my perspective as the Dean of Students it is certainly a benefit to have members of Greek organizations living on campus where you have RAs, and residence life staff who are here during the evening, on the weekend, and they’re able to respond to situations. [Also] every incoming student had to take the online alcohol education class, AlcoholEdu, so that is [another] one of our big prevention efforts, said Crahen”
“Keeping our Greek organizations on-campus minimizes the risks. It is also to ensure that fraternities and sororities are taking steps to understand risk management, why it is important, and what they can do to maintain healthy, productive, and valuable chapters-with the help of advisory and alumni support,” Mittelmeier said. “We have various policies set in place for social events with alcohol and behavioral standards off-campus, and we continue to hold our students accountable to those standards. It is my highest hope that all of our students involved in Greek-letter organizations learn from severe situations such as these.”
Crozier’s death will certainly never be forgotten at JCU, but there is certainly a lesson to be learned along with it.
“What we learn is if students choose to drink, it’s about doing so safely,” said Crahen.