Archive for Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fraternity could face penalties after death

Kansas University’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity could face penalties from its national and local organizations; both are investigating the death of 19-year-old Jason Wren.

Kansas University’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity could face penalties from its national and local organizations; both are investigating the death of 19-year-old Jason Wren.

March 12, 2009


Kansas University’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity could face penalties from its national and local organizations; both are investigating the death of 19-year-old Jason Wren.

Brandon Weghorst, associate executive director of communications of the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon organization, declined to give an example of what type of punishment the fraternity could face.

“We always look to see if there is an incident or something that needs to be corrected. We always take those measures. We believe in that, and that is important to us,” he said.

Wren, a freshman, was found dead Sunday in his bed. Lawrence police said they completed their investigation but won’t announce an official cause of death until toxicology results are available.

Jay Wren, Jason’s father, said his son’s death was the result of drinking too much alcohol. Jason reportedly drank between 10 p.m. and midnight at the fraternity and was walking around with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

The death also has raised concern among the fraternity’s property owners, who also are looking into the incident.

The property is owned by the Kansas Alpha House Corp., a group of about eight alumni from the KU chapter.

“The House Corporation can make its own policies and regulations for the chapter house, but they have to be as strict, if not more strict than the fraternity regulations,” Weghorst said.

Kansas Alpha House Corp. members work closely with fraternity members on a number of issues: scholarships, maintaining the property, recruiting new members, fundraising and behavior issues. It also hires the housemother.

William Meier, Kansas City, Mo., served as treasurer of the corporation for two and a half years. His term ended last year. He was a member of the KU fraternity from 1946 to 1950.

“It’s a challenging thing. The role is not a policeman. The role is an adult counselor trying to help young men during these changing years learn to be responsible, whether it be scholarship or behavior,” Meier said.

He said the corporation was taking this death very seriously and working to determine what it could do to prevent another such tragedy.

“I know the people who are active on the board at this time were on the scene shortly, and obviously there will be an autopsy to get further information.”

While the fraternity organizations are investigating the matter, there is little action that Kansas University can take.

Jill Jess, KU spokeswoman, said the university could work with the Interfraternity Council — a student-based governing council of all of the fraternities on campus — to help it determine what actions, if any, are appropriate. The most severe punishment would be to eliminate the fraternity from the council.

That’s something that the national chapter wouldn’t take lightly.

“That’s never an ideal situation,” Weghorst said. “Our goal is always to have a beneficial, mutual partnership with the university and the other greek organizations on campus. That’s always the goal. That’s the expectation.”


rtwngr 9 years, 1 month ago

The SAE chapter needs to be dismissed from the fraternity scene at the University of Kansas.

HermioneElliott 9 years, 1 month ago

Let's not go with our emotion mind and throw out the baby with the bath water. Alcohol is part of life, and not always a bad part. A great number of people get killed in car accidents, some of them are young people, are we going to outlaw cars? This was an accident pure and simple and should be treated as such.

Jersey_Girl 9 years, 1 month ago

If this happened at a dorm, would the dorm be closed?

LTownBaby 9 years, 1 month ago

kungfumastah you are an absolute idiot. You either didn't go to college or had a bad instance with a greek member in college. To say they do nothing for the community is blasphemous. Millions of dollars are raised and countless hours of community service are provided by these houses each and every year. If we the taxpayers had to pay for all the services that these organizations volunteer their time for, our property taxes would be twice as much! Get a clue!

castarke25 9 years, 1 month ago

If you guys think they are going to get kicked off campus, its not gonna happen, The most likely thing that will happen is SAE will go on probation by nationals and by the university etc. They wont be allowed to throw any Parties away from their house etc and if they do they may only be at their house and be alcohol free. And I agree with Jersey_Girl they wouldn't shut down the dorm if this incident happened their. I remember when the Kid fell out of his dorm window and was killed. It was due to drinking as well. What happened to the Dorm nothing, as far as i know.

sarahsmilehawk 9 years, 1 month ago

"He was a member of the KU fraternity from 1946 to 1950." Actually, you belong to a fraternity or sorority for life. Alumni are still members.

Anyway, it's unfortunate that someone didn't notice how serious Jason's drinking was that night. But ultimately, he made a choice to drink excessively. This is not SAE's fault. Don't think they haven't suffered negative consequences from this experience. No need to call for their heads.

whatatown 9 years, 1 month ago

Why is there still no talk about actual legal action---by either city or campus police? Slap these suckers with the Social Host Law and show students and the entire community that this issue is being taken seriously by all factions involved.

cthulhu_4_president 9 years, 1 month ago

" I remember when the Kid fell out of his dorm window and was killed. It was due to drinking as well. What happened to the Dorm nothing, as far as i know."

Actually, tougher standards went into the maintenance and construction of the type of window that the student used to get out on the ledge. Until new windows are built in the next dorm overhaul, each window now has a bright warning sticker on it which secures the screen shut, and will result in a $400 fine to the student if removed. Not that this will have any deterrant value in the mind of an intoxicated freshman, but just FYI.

Jersey_Girl 9 years, 1 month ago

max - the dorm residents may not wander the halls blatantly drinking but they do drink. When I was in McCollum, the girls were always having margarita parties and the guys had cases of beer in their rooms. Those mini-fridges aren't for milk. I also believe one of the wings on the 6th floor had mountains painted on the walls, either for Busch beer or Coors, I don't remember.

Confrontation 9 years, 1 month ago

A priest supplying alcohol to young men? Pretty common.

beawolf 9 years, 1 month ago


You bring up some good points, however you can't assume that one or more individuals were aware of "all" the drinking he had been doing, or that he may have continued drinking in his room, or even that he was underage. I'm not dismissing the lack of oversight by SAE, but the situation is rather complex.

castarke25 9 years, 1 month ago

Fraternities, sororities, Dorms etc no matter what, drinking goes on behind the scenes, whether there is a restriction against it or not. You have a bunch of kids living on the same floor or in the same building, its gonna happen.I have been there, we all drink, or majority of College students do. Its part of the college lifestyle. We are adults we make our own decisions etc. The Fraternity/sorority, dorm etc no matter what will respond to the incident or an incident the best way they can. Like i said before SAE im sure has in their bylaws, restrictions on drinking just like every other house, dorm etc. even scholarship halls. One last thing, you cant keep track of every single persons alcohol in take minute by minute its not possible. Oh and if this had happened at an apartment off campus, this wouldnt be a major story. Dont get me wrong its sad and upsetting and i feel for his family. But It is brought to everyones attention cause it has to do with the Greek System and the IFC. And for some reason everyone not in a house thinks the Greek system is a horrible institution. Its not!! Their are many positives that come from being involved in an institution such as SAE or any other Greek System as a matter of fact. Oh and trying to prevent underage drinking, not gonna happen, kids do what they want to do!!!

gl0ck0wn3r 9 years, 1 month ago

SAE has a long history of being a bad actor at KU. Anyone remember the Pizza Shuttle incident from years past?

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 1 month ago

You guys are confusing institutional drinking (allowing someone to walk around with a bottle of Jack when they are only 19) and hidden drinking like the kind that happens in the dorm. Don't confuse the permissive attitudes of the greeks with university living groups that work hard to enforce rules. Remember: he was in SAE because he got kicked out of the dorm for such behavior.

And... this was NOT an accident. The booze didn't "fall" into his mouth by accident. This was a series of decisions combined with a lot of enabling (where did he get so much liquor!?). Do NOT compare this to a car wreck.

Years ago I was delivering pizzas for Dominoes. I ran inside Sleep And Eat (SAE) and delivered my pizza. Came out... my car was gone. While I was inside complaining to the arrogant punks, it reappeared. Another time I was delivering in the area, and they had rigged a water balloon catapult and were hitting cars. They put a dent in mine. I approached them on their back deck and said "which of you wants to come down here and take responsibility for this damage?" and they all ran like girly-boys looking for their mommas. Twenty men... not one penis. Or, would someone like to hear the story about the time they hired strippers and blocked out the windows so no one could see in? Does anyone remember the stolen cable TV (a federal offense - no prosecution) that they wired to EVERY room in the place? "We didn't know it was wrong..."

Sleep And Eat won't be shut down, but their sanctions will change them from the Animal House that has made them so popular, and they will close from lack of membership. That's the pattern I've seen in my 26 years in Lawrence.

Why a graduate from the 50s would want to help keep this place open is beyond me. Wake up: the culture you had 60 years ago died in the 70s. These board members are putting their personal financial well-being on the line as they risk being sued for situations like this one.

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