- A RELIGIOUS FOUNDATION AND EXPRESSIVE ASSOCIATION RIGHTS
- DEFERRED RUSH AT COLORADO?
- IS THERE STILL SPEECH FREEDOM?
- LATINO-GREEKS ARRIVE
- EDUCATIONAL GRANTS FROM FOUNDATION TO FRATERNITY
- HAZARDS OF DECORATIVE PARTY POOLS
- CHAPTER HOUSES AND FRATERNITY CULTURE
Newsletter > January 2005 > "HAZARDS OF DECORATIVE PARTY POOLS"
HAZARDS OF DECORATIVE PARTY POOLS
Robert Manley, Manley Burke
A 20-year-old University of Texas student is suing a fraternity Chapter for $25,000,000. Leslie Holloway claims his fraternity Chapter, Alpha Tau Omega, recently operated and built an unlicensed pool. He claims it was improperly designed, had poor lighting and lacked warning signs.
The incident occurred at a party in the Chapter house where a decorative pool had been built in the yard. The decorative pool was made with walls of straw bales that were arranged in a rectangle eight feet by twelve feet. A black plastic tarpaulin was then placed inside the rectangle and water was placed in the tarp. The pool was eight to ten inches deep at the most.
Alcohol was not being served at the fraternity house, but Mr. Holloway stopped at an apartment on the way and drank enough beer to make his blood alcohol test show 0.097. In Texas, under the law, 0.08 is legally drunk. He had been at the apartment for about an hour and a half, and the blood alcohol content would suggest he drank five to ten beers in that time period.
When he arrived, there was a picnic table pushed against the straw bales on the eight foot side. He jumped up on the 32-inch high picnic table and tried to do a belly-flop into the pool. In order to get over the straw bales and the bench attached to the picnic table, he had to propel himself horizontally and, after he hit the water, he almost instantly banged his head into the wall at the other end of the pool, twelve feet away.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit was a competitive swimmer in high school. He completed the Red Cross lifesaving class. He knew that it was unsafe to dive into a pool with three to five feet of water. He had seen wading pools for children that had “No Diving” signs posted. It was obvious to anyone who looked at the decorative pool that it had only eight to ten inches of water.
On deposition, the plaintiff acknowledged that he might have jumped into the water if there had been “No Diving” signs posted, or if the depth had been posted on a sign. It was clearly visible that the pool was very shallow.
The national fraternity is not being sued, only the Chapter. No individual defendants have been named. The plaintiff’s older brother, who was the pledge trainer for the Chapter, oversaw the construction of the pool. Reports are that the members of the Chapter feel terrible about the harm that Mr. Holloway suffered. He is now paralyzed except for his shoulders and his biceps.
Decorative pools at parties look innocent. Even if alcohol is not served at parties, guests or members can consume alcohol before they arrive. Unfortunately, there have been a number of cases in recent years where guests at parties have made the same mistake that Mr. Holloway made with similar consequences.
The entire Greek world can learn from the tragedy of Leslie Holloway and the University of Texas Chapter of Alpha Tau Omega. The Chapter is demonstrating by its new policy to not have decorative temporary pools as party themes, the kind of caution that Greek Chapters ought to be following throughout the country.