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Archive for Thursday, March 12, 2009

Alcohol attitudes

Solutions are elusive, but the nation has to try to attack the alcohol culture on too many college campuses.

March 12, 2009

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Overconsumption of alcohol has claimed another victim. This case hits close to home because it took the life of a 19-year-old Kansas University student.

Autopsy results have not been released, but the father of Jason Wren has cited mounting evidence that a night of excessive drinking cost his son his life. Jason reportedly consumed multiple margaritas at a local restaurant, followed by up to a dozen beers and some whiskey after he returned to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, where he had lived for about a week.

The loss of a young student in such a senseless way is beyond tragic. It is a symptom of a broader problem that has stubbornly defied solutions at KU and other college campuses across the country. What can be done to eliminate this scourge?

A number of legal remedies could be applied. For instance, why was a local restaurant serving margaritas to a 19-year-old? Were employees fooled by a fake ID or did they not ask to see one? Increased enforcement of laws against underage drinking is one strategy.

Fraternities and sororities aren’t the only campus locations where drinking takes place, but they get a lot of the attention. They could attack the problem by making their houses alcohol-free zones and actively discouraging drinking, especially among under-age members.

The biggest hurdle in attacking this problem may be a college culture that often celebrates inebriation. Drinking to the point of passing out is viewed as fun and acceptable behavior. In the wake of Jason Wren’s death, the university newspaper ran on its front page information about how to recognize alcohol poisoning and what to do if a friend appears to be in physical danger after consuming too much alcohol. This may be practical information for college students to have, but wouldn’t it be a lot better for a “friend” to step in before someone consumes a dangerous amount of alcohol?

Perhaps figuring out a way to notify parents about a problem drinker would help, but there’s only so much parents can do for a child living away from home. It has to be a matter of personal responsibility for students and their peers.

The problem is widespread. A study presented Wednesday at a Seattle conference for student affairs officials reported that nearly half of college freshmen who drank alcohol spend more time drinking each week than they do studying. The study drew its figures from more than 30,000 students who took an online alcohol education course last fall. Students who said they had had at least one drink in the past two weeks, said they spent 10.2 hours a week drinking and an average of 8.4 hours a week studying. Of the 70 percent of respondents who said they drink, almost half spent more time drinking than studying.

It would be nice to think they were exaggerating their drinking, but the death of Jason Wren and other anecdotal evidence lends credence to the frightening figures.

The executive director of the Student Affairs Administrators of Higher Education said the group hopes the study would motivate campus and community leaders to help administrators “redouble our efforts to de-emphasize the role of alcohol in college life.”

It’s no small task, but it’s a worthy goal. There is so much more to college — and to life — than drinking oneself into oblivion. Perhaps the untimely death of Jason Wren will help drive that point home.

Comments

davidsmom 5 years, 1 month ago

Jersey Girl is correct that brains are not fully developed until about the age of 25. That's why young people make so many stupid choices.

Many adults also make stupid choices. However, any parent of an actual adult (I mean mid 20s or older) knows that a 19-year-old is not really and truly an adult, regardless of what the law says.

You cannot prevent young people from wanting to do something that is considered OK for adults. As long as drinking alcohol is acceptable in our society, young people will do it and we will never get it under control.
Personally, I do not need alcohol to enjoy the company of my friends and to enjoy fun activities. I have never understood why others do. It is certainly a trick of the Devil to convince people that they do, and it appears he wins on all fronts.

As long as getting drunk is considered cool or funny - and I remember it was among my peers in high school (back in the stone ages) although God only knows why - there will always be underage drinking. College campuses are the perfect environment for this to take place because kids are totally away from parental influence.

And it is absolutely correct that federal law prevents the University from providing any information to parents that the student doesn't authorize.

That said, mom of three is correct that regardless how you raise your child, ultimately he is responsible for his own decisions. The best parents in the world can have a child who makes a bad choice. Our society does not demand people take personal responsibility. They are always looking for someone or something else to blame.

Fewer people now consider smoking "cool" than they did a few decades ago. Maybe this attitude shift will occur someday regarding alcohol, but I am not holding my breath until it does.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 1 month ago

Centerville (Anonymous) says…

Marion, I don't know where to start with your misrepresentation of Twelve Step programs, but why don't you stay away from the subject until you know even a little bit about them."

Marion writes:

"Misrepresentaion"?

Oh, hoh!

The games's afoot!

An just how, my dear Centerville, have I "misrepresented" Twelve Step Theology?

Wanna go through The Twelve Steps one by one so that I can eviscerate each and every one of them?

And when I'm finished, you tell me just how The Twelve Steps are not a "miracle cure" or a theology!

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Centerville 5 years, 1 month ago

Marion, I don't know where to start with your misrepresentation of Twelve Step programs, but why don't you stay away from the subject until you know even a little bit about them.

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forku 5 years, 1 month ago

John...Let me get this straight. The young man lived in the frat house for 10 days. He was kicked out of a dorm for what we now know were multiple alcohol abuse violations. His dad says that he has had an alcohol problen since 9th grade. The face book page shows multiple pics of him drinking in high school and at his dorm. He used a fake ID at the restaurant. His file from the dorm was sealed, but he did not tell the dad or the frat the truth. Sounds a lot like a silent death wish and a deep seeded problem. Not sure the amount of alcohol he had that night matters. This was going to happen sooner or later if he did not stop or did not ask for help, or if dad, knowing of the problem, did not intervene. From what I have read, its the school's fault and the frat's fault according to the family. But the school knew him for a semester and the frat knew him for 10 days. His family knew him for 19 years. Don't know, but i guess that is where I would look for answers

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Jim Williamson 5 years, 1 month ago

"All the University needed to do to prevent this death was to release the information they had about my 19 year old nephew to his dad,..."

With all due respect, sir, what part of "It's illegal" is difficult to understand?

"...In my mind, it's irresponsible to have anyone in a fraternity house before they are 21."

Maybe, but hundreds of thousands of young men do it every single year.

"And the SAE's outrageous behavior of letting him move into the house after he got kicked out of a dorm is clearly negligent."

I'm not sure if it's negligent, but it sure doesn't seem like a wise decision.

"Perhaps Jason's death and the irresponsible behavior and policies that caused it can be used to bring about change for the good of others."

Don't look for Federal privacy laws to change anytime soon, but maybe some changes can be made within Student Housing and the Department of Student Affairs. We can only hope and pray. Something positive needs to come out of this.

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Escapee 5 years, 1 month ago

How about building relationships with your children from the moment they're born and not ending the moment you drop them off as a college freshman!!! How about KNOWING your child? Knowing what he/she is up to from the moment they can make their own friends, drive a car, get a job, go to a school function solo -- all of it! I am so sick of part time parenting I could puke! Teach your children at home things like drinking alcoholic beverages, the dangers involved in promiscuity, and a hundred other topics of importance for their survival in this world! There is something in me, as a mother, that tells me either they didn't know this young man -- or they simply thru in the towel and wanted someone else to deal with him. I 'blame' the parents...for not parenting this kid who never got the chance to grow up....

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 1 month ago

Some of you seem to have gotten it.

Although acohol poisoning was most likely the proximate cause of this young man's death the root causes go much deeper into the society.

Our Puritanical attitude toward alcohol, in which we tell kids to not drink or to not drink too much using scare tactics instead of real education, contributed as did the young man's own irresponsibility.

So did our reliance on Twelve Step Theology which mandates a miracle cure for a condition to which it refers as a disease and this "cure" is begun by entirely disempowering the individual who already has problems.

Nothing like telling a guy or gal who knows quite well that they have a serious issue in their life that there is nothing they can do about it, are "powerless" and must rely on a "higher power", especially since the success rate of such programs runs to a whopping 7-10%!

Nothing like trying to scare kids into not drinking with horror stories because the first thing they think, is "Can't happen to me!".

We can never stop all death and injury from alcohol abuse; that just isn't in the cards but we could do a much better job if we educate reasonably and rationally and stop relying on the miracle cures of Twelve Step Theology!

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Escapee 5 years, 1 month ago

It seems, sadly, that there was a time at which family (at the very least) shoulda/coulda stepped in and stopped this young man. Yes, by dragging his sorry little ass home and not sponsoring his continuation of partying instead of studying. Wasn't getting kicked out of a dorm a bit of a signal????

This crap starts DECADES before arriving in CollegeTown, USA. Kids who aren't ready for this step should never be dropped at the door of such an opportunity. When will parents ever begin to take responsibility for their children's well being!!! When will parents stop trying to be their kids' friends instead of their guardians!!! The word 'No' packs untold power. More parents need to use it more often.

In this case, it might have saved Jason's life.

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blue73harley 5 years, 1 month ago

"Everyday baby, when the sun go down I get with my friends, an' I begin to clown I don't care, what the people are thinkin' I ain't drunk, I'm just drinkin'

(But you're so high) Oh man, you know I ain't high (But you're so high) I just take a little bit, now an' then (But you're so high) Now you oughta be 'shamed of yourself (Stay drunk all the time) Oh, c'mon now, you know ya'all get like that

Come home last night, all loose Baby get in a fuss, I said, "Honey, hush" I don't care, what the people are thinkin' I ain't drunk, I'm just drinkin'" Jimmie Liggins

Jason Wren was responsible for Jason Wren. Period.

But the lawyers wiil still be hovering like vultures.

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Benjamin Roberts 5 years, 1 month ago

JohnSWren and kimij67,

Do yourselves a favor: get out of the forums. The emotional drain will harm you mentally and physically. You will not change anyone's opinion and you will be attacked. In the end, you will quit checking the comments anyway - so do it now before it causes more pain.

May God bless you and your family and provide comfort in this time of pain.

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Mike Blur 5 years, 1 month ago

Quoted from the article: "Students who said they had had at least one drink in the past two weeks, said they spent 10.2 hours a week drinking and an average of 8.4 hours a week studying."

Four hours on Friday, and four hours on Saturday. A couple hours during the week. What's the big deal?

Also, hours spent drinking and studying do not have to be mutually exclusive. I probably wouldn't have been able to get through Western Civ (with a strong B) if I wasn't able to read "Prometheus Unbound" on the front porch of the Crossing.

That said, it is borderline shameful that the JW editors, in concert with select members of the deceased family, are publicly setting up KU and SAE as targets of an ill-advised lawsuit. The young man made a tragic decision, and now the JW calls it a "scourge."

Lemme ask you all--when was the last time ANY KU student died from alcohol poisoning only.

KU students have perished in a number of ways in recent years--notably in vehicle collisions (where most of the victims are sober), illness (ie. meningitis) and most tragically, at the hands of a violent individual. However, none of those circumstances have been labeled as "scourges." Maybe we should ban relationships between students. Maybe we should ban communal living, where disease could be spread. Let's take ALL the freaking fun out of the college experience in the name of safety and fear of a litigious society.

Any recovering alcoholic will tell you that drunks are the most cunning liars. Therefore, it's no surprise that the deceased hoodwinked his family into believing that everything was all right after he got kicked out of the dorms.

Lastly, I'm mildly amused that fraternities, as one, are getting thrown under the bus during this whole discussion. The very same "frats" who have produced civic leaders on the local, state, national and international level are at the same time booze-laden booby traps for unsuspecting and gullible neophytes like young Mr Wren? Please.

To the Wren family: Bury your son, hold him in your memory, and move on. Please.

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Candide 5 years, 1 month ago

Down with sunflower broadwallet!

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Buggie7 5 years, 1 month ago

I beg to differ there Kim. I am saddened by your loss however if he originally lived in another state he should have been taken home after getting kicked out of the dorm. Had this been my son, I would have brought his spoiled ass home, made him get a job, pay his own tuition at a college nearer where I could keep an eye on him. If he wants a babysitter than he should have done this so he could be the one to do it and not place the responsibility on someone else to care for his ADULT kid. Also if there is drinking involved like there is in all dorms and frats (if you believe different you should not pay to send your kid away from college and if you do expect some kind of incident) Also YES he should have read the freakin fine print! This is not attending pre-school. This is paying for your kid even though he is and adult to live in a frat. With all the things in the news about Frats as a parent he should have went through ANY information with a fine tooth comb. This incident could have been prevented in his home town. Thats where he should have went after being kicked out of the dorm.

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kimij67 5 years, 1 month ago

As a family member of Jason, but removed enough to be objective. I have to say that the RESPONSIBALTY LIES WITHIN US ALL...as Family, Friends, Administrators of a college, Fraternity brothers, or even just as strangers, not to keep our friends from making mistakes, but to recognize the signs of grave danger and to possess the wisdom to step in and intervene...we are all so worried about keeping to our own business, being politically correct, and not breaking any rules. That our young are now suffering. I am in my 40's and when I was 19 we partied just like all the other generations. The difference is...my friends, teachers or even just neighbors told my parents when they saw me going down the wrong path, my parents were then able to step in and help or redirect me. If just one single person had been bold enough to tell my Uncle Jay about Jason’s drinking, and how severe it had come to him getting kicked out of the dorms. My Uncle could have helped. As parents we try to believe the good in our children and when they sugar coat things, then it is a hard choice, and my Uncle made his with the information he had at hand, do NOT blame him or say he should have read the fine print of the dorm rules...he was doing the best he could with what he had to work with at the time, and not a single person would tell him otherwise about Jason. Jason screwed up, we all have, but Jason paid for that screw up with his life, and I hope that next time you see someone in need of help you will step in, intervene, GO AHEAD AND BE A TATTLE TALE...It might just save their life. We Love you Jason, the hole you left will never be filled. Your Cousin Kim

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gogoplata 5 years, 1 month ago

As sad as this is the blame should rest on the young man who made the poor choice of drinking too much. I do sympathize with the family. It must be awful for them. I know I have made many poor choices that could have ended in my death.

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cheeseburger 5 years, 1 month ago

Didn't Jay Wren have the option of taking his son back home after the Oliver Hall incident?

Didn't Jay Wren have the option of moving his son into housing other than a fraternity after the Oliver Hall incident, knowing full well he was under 21?

Attempting to transfer blame in this case serves no useful purpose. Jason made some poor choices, and in hindsight, so too did Mr. Wren. The family's efforts from here on out should probably be to lobby for an exemption to FERPA or to stiffen underage drinking laws, but not to attempt to blame others for their misfortune.

With that said, I am sorry for their loss. No parent should have to bury their child.

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geekin_topekan 5 years, 1 month ago

"Jason's death and the irresponsible behavior and policies that caused it " +++ Jeezus,dude.Give it a rest.He drank himself to death and from what I can tell,if he hadnt done it at SAE he would have done it in the dorm.

".. no one who is kicked out of a dorm is allowed to then move into a fraternity house." ++++ Um,would you have preferred he move into the Salvation Army?They have stricter guidlines than the dorms or the frats. Clearly he used up his second,third and fourth chances at the dorms .I think the fact that someone was willing to give a four-time loser a chance is pretty noble to tell you the truth.Maybe your family owes them some gratitude and an apology for his sullying their reputation with his stupidity.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, JohnSWren; won't fly.

What if the kid had gotten an apartment instead?

Would the responsibility lie with the apartment manager or owner?

Let's get a little more real about where the true responsbility rests.

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Chris Golledge 5 years, 1 month ago

Jersey_Girl (Anonymous) says…

cg - immaturity isn't just because of coddling. ...

Hmm, maybe, but I've worked with 19-yr olds that I had no trouble with giving the responsibility for the safety and well being of others (in a harsh and potentially dangerous environment), and others who obviously didn't give a damn about the safety of others and had no clue about what was dangerous to them personally. I think there is an upbringing factor, though there are likely other factors as well.

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JohnSWren 5 years, 1 month ago

All the University needed to do to prevent this death was to release the information they had about my 19 year old nephew to his dad, and to make sure a policy was in place so that no one who is kicked out of a dorm is allowed to then move into a fraternity house. In my mind, it's irresponsible to have anyone in a fraternity house before they are 21.

And the SAE's outrageous behavior of letting him move into the house after he got kicked out of a dorm is clearly negligent.

Setting reasonable, responsible policies in light of the well documented binge drinking epidemic on college campuses is certainly not baby-sitting.

Perhaps Jason's death and the irresponsible behavior and policies that caused it can be used to bring about change for the good of others. That's why I'm writing this right now.

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Strontius 5 years, 1 month ago

"But those who don't admit there is a problem with young people and alcohol on college campuses today are just burying their heads in the sand or trying to justify their own problem drinking, in my opinion."


Well, I was a young kid on a college campus. In fact, I turn 24 tomorrow, having graduated from KU last year. The problem, as I see it, is that too many of these young adults were never given the proper parental instruction before being turned loose in Lawrence. I see it all the time where I work. Kids whose parents let them do whatever they wanted in high school or who weren't observant enough to recognize their children's serious personal shortcomings and address them properly. Some of them are probably inherited from the parents themselves; which amount to a near total lack of respect for authority, rules, or kind behavior towards others.

The solution isn't to have the university take on the role of a secret police organization, but a recognition that sometimes people make bad choices in their lives, which can have devastating and unfortunate consequences.

Jason's death was a tragedy. But it was an isolated and extremely rare tragedy.

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bevy 5 years, 1 month ago

Mr Wren, I just want to tell you that I am sorry for your loss, and that I will be praying for your family. No words can express what a parent feels for another parent - or uncle, or any family member - at the loss of a child.

I understand the FERPA regulations (I work in Education) and this is one place where the sue-happy culture we have may have hurt our kids. Personally, I think if you are paying the tuition for your child, you have the right to know whether they are attending classes, if they are living in a safe environment, etc. But legally you have no standing once they turn 18.

I have a daughter who is a college freshman. I have taught her the best way I know how, but ultimately I cannot control what she does. She is an adult now, ready or not.

Oh, and to the poster above, yes there have been studies that show that the part of the brain that reasons the consequences of actions is not fully developed until sometime in the early to mid 20s. I have found this very comforting at times when asking my teens "what did you THINK was going to happen?"

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Jim Williamson 5 years, 1 month ago

You're right, but having the University babysit and tattle on over 30,000 kids to their parents ain't it.

Alcohol consumption is a problem in high schools, on college campuses, in the white-collar corporate world, among my blue-collar buddies. We are a nation of drunks. Sadly, like you, other than making sure my own backyard is as clean as I can keep it, like you, I'm stuck for answers.

There are coincidences. All things happen for a reason. Perhaps there's a calling as an advocate for change for you and maybe other members of your family that comes out of this.

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JohnSWren 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes, ulimately it was Jason's responsibility.

But those who don't admit there is a problem with young people and alcohol on college campuses today are just burying their heads in the sand or trying to justify their own problem drinking, in my opinion.

Did you see this recent program on 60 Minutes? http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4819332n%3fsource=search_video

Clearly there is a problem and something needs to be changed.

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mom_of_three 5 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Wren is upset about the tragedy in their family, and rightly so. When something like this happens, you want to place blame and Right now, their emotions are running so high, they can't think clearly. We had a similiar situation in our family a few years ago, and your heart breaks when you think about the what-ifs, and coulda's. But nothing changes the fact that a young man was responsible for his own life, made choices, and now families have to live with the consequences.

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Jim Williamson 5 years, 1 month ago

I'd bet a dollar this line of comments didn't go the way Mr. Wren thought/hoped it would.

Just sayin'.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 1 month ago

geekin_topekan (Anonymous) says…

“The University of Kansas and the SAEs were clearly negligent.” ++++ Oh puleeez! I suppose they were to tuck him in at night and hold it while he tinkled?Would that make you happy? Jeezus,I am sick of hearing parents of negligent and irresponsible students blame everyone but the kid for their kids self induced and early expiration.

Maybe mr wren and mr. yeager should get together and sort out these “mis-understandings” that victimize their boys. Obviously the kid has had drinking issues for some time and his problems began loonnggg before ever setting foot in Lawrence Ks. Geographic cures have never worked.Everywhere you go,there you are."

Marionwrites:

Well said!

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ArumerZwarteHoop 5 years, 1 month ago

parrotuya had no friends or girlfriends in college so he has to take out his frustrations on "frat" boys.

I can picture him in a dark room on a sunny saturday afternnon playing warcraft.

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geekin_topekan 5 years, 1 month ago

"The University of Kansas and the SAEs were clearly negligent." ++++ Oh puleeez! I suppose they were to tuck him in at night and hold it while he tinkled?Would that make you happy? Jeezus,I am sick of hearing parents of negligent and irresponsible students blame everyone but the kid for their kids self induced and early expiration.

Maybe mr wren and mr. yeager should get together and sort out these "mis-understandings" that victimize their boys. Obviously the kid has had drinking issues for some time and his problems began loonnggg before ever setting foot in Lawrence Ks. Geographic cures have never worked.Everywhere you go,there you are.

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parrotuya 5 years, 1 month ago

Maybe the obnoxious frat boys will drink themselves into extiniction! And qualify for a Darwin award!

Chug! Chug! Chug!

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Jersey_Girl 5 years, 1 month ago

cg - immaturity isn't just because of coddling. Don't ask me to quote anything b/c I can't, but I do remember seeing an article about scientists being able to prove that brains don't mature pass the teenage impulsivity reactions until age 25. I think it was with PET scans they were able to show that the part of the brain where impulsive thinking/action comes from is very active clear up until the age of 25.

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mom_of_three 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't know if I would go as far to hold his parents 100% responsible, because you can teach and teach and teach a child, but the child is responsible for the choices they make with what they are taught.
However, i do agree that they are not correct in blaming the school for his death, as tragic as it may be.

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couranna1 5 years, 1 month ago

mom_of_three the family should have been told and you are a moron for thinking not. This student obviously posed a danger to himself and others. To not tell the parents who were probably paying his way is a violation of ethics even if a stupid law says they cannot You are a complete idiot for what you said in your post and I feel sorry for your children

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Escapee 5 years, 1 month ago

First and foremost, my sympathies to Jason's family. As all of these posters have agreed, he was much to young to lose his life senselessly....

That said, though I'm sure the pain of loss incites much of their thinking at this moment -- it is NOT the job of a university institution to teach young adults how to handle alcohol. When we, as parents, send our 'children' off at age 18 to experience life without parental supervision at a university -- we send them off with what WE know about their ability to survive and thrive in that environment. If they are not yet ready to take that step, it is a parent's responsibility to put them, or NOT put them, in a different situation. Why would a parent knowingly send a kid to a college known for its partying atmosphere when they knew that kid couldn't handle it??? There's nothing wrong in denying a child 'support' for a college freshman experience like this until he/she shows some signs of responsibility and maturity, and yes -- restraint. The college experience should be a privilege for those who have shown some signs of maturing -- not just a blank check continuation of high school antics minus the parentals....

I can't apologize for feeling this way even at this moment. I DO hold his parents responsible and feel they are 100% irresponsible for 'blaming' the school.

Grow up, America. This problem starts way, way before college....

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Chris Golledge 5 years, 1 month ago

Regarding: "The biggest hurdle in attacking this problem may be a college culture that often celebrates inebriation."

Who says it is just a college culture? Seems to be a lot more widespread than that to me.

Immaturity is rampant throughout this nation's culture and we coddle our youth and try to avoid giving them any responsibility for themselves until they are completely out of reach of parental guidance. We try to delay drinking until we think people should be mature about it, but collectively fail to realize that maturity doesn't necessarily come with age, it comes with experience. This tragic incident is not a failing of university policy or laws, per se, but is a symptom of our society's misguided attempt to not give responsibilities, like money management, the right to abuse our bodies as we see fit, etc., to young people until they are beyond the safety net that parents and other family can provide. Hold back the water long enough and the dam will eventually burst. A parent gradually loses influence on a child throughout their life; delaying the drinking age until 21 just prevents parents from teaching responsible drinking until most of that influence is gone.

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Chris Golledge 5 years, 1 month ago

Regarding: "The biggest hurdle in attacking this problem may be a college culture that often celebrates inebriation."

Who says it is just a college culture? Seems to be a lot more widespread than that to me.

Immaturity is rampant throughout this nation's culture and we coddle our youth and try to avoid giving them any responsibility for themselves until they are completely out of reach of parental guidance. We try to delay drinking until we think people should be mature about it, but collectively fail to realize that maturity doesn't necessarily come with age, it comes with experience. This tragic incident is not a failing of university policy or laws, per se, but is a symptom of our society's misguided attempt to not give responsibilities, like money management, the right to abuse our bodies as we see fit, etc., to young people until they are beyond the safety net that parents and other family can provide. Hold back the water long enough and the damn will eventually burst. A parent gradually loses influence on a child throughout their life; delaying the drinking age until 21 just prevents parents from teaching responsible drinking until most of that influence is gone.

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sarahsmilehawk 5 years, 1 month ago

Drinking doesn't take place at ANY sorority house, if they want to keep their insurance. None whatsoever. Our parties, which don't occur at our house, require two forms of ID to drink, so no one can use a fake. Anyone who gets to drunk, even if she's over 21, will be sent home and have some serious explaining to do the next week.

Some organizations are working really hard to stay safe with risk management, even when it annoys members who think it's inconvenient or want to bend the rules.

Fraternities just have fewer restrictions.

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Tristan Moody 5 years, 1 month ago

Having worked in the student housing environment, I can add two things:

1) Student housing is bound by federal law not to share ANY information about a student without permission from that student. A strict interpretation of FERPA means that without consent, student housing cannot even confirm whether the student lived in the dorms, and, if requested, that the university cannot confirm whether a person is even a student.

2) Except in cases where students pose a danger to themselves, others, or property, student housing generally does not kick people out for single infractions. To quote DSH's rules and regulations:

Residents who pose a risk of harm to themselves, other residents, or property may be removed from the system. Further, residents who continue to violate policies after being placed on probation may be removed from the system. During finals, students who cause significant disruption may be asked to vacate the hall pending a hearing with an Assistant Director in the Department of Student Housing.

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feeble 5 years, 1 month ago

Oliver was, during my student days, used as a kind of "last chance" for problem residents. Couldn't cut it in on the hill? Send 'em to Oliver or, if they have the money, suggest Naismith.

Did the Parents review the Student Housing handbook, either during enrollment or online?

"Removal from the Department of Student Housing System: Residents who pose a risk of harm to themselves, other residents, or property may be removed from the system. Further, residents who continue to violate policies after being placed on probation may be removed from the system. During finals, students who cause significant disruption may be asked to vacate the hall pending a hearing with an Assistant Director in the Department of Student Housing." http://www.housing.ku.edu/handbook/policies.shtml#security

Clearly, if you are being removed from Student Housing, something very wrong is going on. To simply accept " a convincing argument that the dorm had been unreasonable" is naive to the point of negligence on the part of the parent.

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mom_of_three 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't know if FERPA would apply in this situation, but the University can not release information to a parent unless the student signs a release to do so. For Mr. Wren the uncle to blame the University for not saying why they kicked out an 19 year old adult is nuts. Perhaps the dad should have asked the son why, and it appeared the dad didn't get the answer he should have gotten.
This is a tragic situation and I can understand why the family wants to place blame, but....

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Jim Williamson 5 years, 1 month ago

Universities no longer practice in loco parentis because they can't, by law. Privacy laws prevent them from sharing anything (and I mean anything) the 18-year-old adult student doesn't want them to. Is it right? Maybe not. Is it the law? Yes. So what happens? We -- parents -- only know what our kids want us to know.

Oliver Hall is a mess. it's been a mess forever. It was the home of the so-called ZOO fraternity back in the 80s and probably still is. Maybe the only thing that could fix that is levelling it and starting over.

You're absolutely right: parents can only do so much from 500 miles away. The best parents in the world live on a wing and a prayer sometimes. And sometimes, really, really cr@ppy things that don't make any sense and that make us angry. We want to know why and we want to hold people and institutions accountable.

The thought of losing a child is a terrible, awful, unimaginable thing to this parent . Just the thought puts a knot in my stomach. My prayers and thoughts go out to you and Jason's entire family.

Beannachd Dia dhuit.

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gontek 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't think you can effectively reduce the role of alcohol and drug abuse in college life without moving the problem into high schools, or changing laws and broader social views toward substance abuse.

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Mary Darst 5 years, 1 month ago

Jason's family....My heart goes out to you. Having a child die is the worst thing that can happen to a parent. I have three close friends that have been in that position. I know that in all three cases they would have liked to known there were serious problems so they could have done something. Yes, Jason had a responsibility...but how responsible are you at 19. Not very...and especially if you have an addiction problem. Mark Z is so right when he said, "our silence when we see self-destruction truly speaks volumes." I am so sad for your loss.

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Jersey_Girl 5 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Wren, I'm sorry you had to read the those posts. I really hope your brother did not. This was a horrible tragedy and many of those posts compounded the pain. They were inexcusable. My thoughts and condolences go out to you and your family.

Katy H

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sowhatnow 5 years, 1 month ago

Mr. Wren,

Thank you for coherently describing a mature perspective on this sad tragedy. I am sorry for your loss.

You are clear that Jason made his own choices, and that the various adults and institutions - made theirs. And you even own your own choices and take some of the responsibility yourself.

Your perspective is so much nearer the truth than the game of trying to single out one person to blame for everything. Your honesty is refreshing.

This society doesn't like to be accountable for our choices, doesn't want to be help responsible (the SAE not providing information) - and older adults have lost our courage to lean into conflict and uncomfortableness when others' well being is at stake. Our words may change nothing, but our silence when we see self-destruction truly speaks volumes.

Thank you for your honest and humble offering sir. I am humbled and feel more hopeful about our world knowing you are in it.

Mark Z

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JohnSWren 5 years, 1 month ago

"Perhaps figuring out a way to notify parents about a problem drinker would help, but there’s only so much parents can do for a child living away from home. It has to be a matter of personal responsibility for students and their peers."

Ultimately Jason was responsible for what happened. But he was just a 19 year old kid trying to have a good time, and trying to fit in with his new "brothers."

Yes, there is only so much a parent can do, and in this case it would have saved Jason's life.

Jason was enabled by everyone who knew about his problem drinking and did nothing. It was Jason's responsibility, but he deserved more help from the adults in his life, including me, his uncle.

I spoke with my brother Jay as he was leaving Denver to go to his son Jason's assistance as soon as Jason was told to leave the dorm. He said to me, "I'll probably bring him back with me."

In Lawrence, Jason gave a convincing argument that the dorm had been unreasonable, AND THE DORM WOULD NEITHER CONFIRM OR DENY WHAT HAD HAPPENED!

I've seen posts online that seem to assume my brother would know the history of the dorm, that it would take much more than a minor infraction of rules to get thrown out. HOW WOULD MY BROTHER OR ANY PARENT KNOW THAT?

And then the SAE house accepts Jason as a resident after he had been thrown out of the dorm OUTRAGEOUS!

Yes, there is only so much a parent can do. If Jay had been given the information he was entitled to as a parent, I believe Jason would be alive today.

It is criminal negligence to build a swimming pool without a fence around it if it is not under constant supervision of a life guard. The University of Kansas and the SAEs were clearly negligent.

My brother Jay was led to believe that the University of Kansas and the SAEs would be safe for his son, but clearly they were not and Jay was not given enough information to know this.

Jay was given no help to make the decision that in looking back now with the information the University withheld, the decision that would have saved Jason's life, to bring him back to Denver.

As a direct result, Jay, Mary, and their two daughters will be bringing Jason's body back for a funeral here in Denver next Monday.

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