- THE CONTINUING CONTROVERSY OVER MANDATORY STUDENT FEES
- FIRST AMENDMENT GOVERNS KENTUCKY STATE UNIVERSITY
- A NEW ATTACK ON KEG PARTIES: BUT IS IT LEGAL?
- THE CHICO STATE LAWSUIT: IS ILLEGALLY SERVING ALCOHOL UNFAIR COMPETITION?
- ANOTHER SENSELESS CAMPUS DEATH
- THE RESPONSE TO ALCOHOL DEATH AT CHICO STATE
Newsletter > September 2001 > "THE RESPONSE TO ALCOHOL DEATH AT CHICO STATE"
THE RESPONSE TO ALCOHOL DEATH AT CHICO STATE
Timothy M. Burke, Manley & Burke
Adrian Heideman died on October 7, 2000, at Cal State-Chico’s Pi Kappa Phi House . Adrian had been encouraged to drink a substantial quantity of blackberry brandy. The lawsuit that has now been filed against the fraternity, the chapter and numerous members of the chapter claims that after Heideman became so drunk he couldn’t care for himself, two members of the fraternity took him to a basement room and left him ” lying on a narrow bed with his face against the wall.” The members “turned the lights off before they left him there” while they went upstairs to continue to “drink and to watch the strip show.” More details of that lawsuit, particularly of a unique theory being applied in the complaint can be found in an accompanying article .
Edith Heideman, Adrian’s mother, was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle on the day after the suit was filed as saying:
“I don’ t want another young man on the threshold of his manhood to suffer the indignity and tragedy of dying on the brink of life and I don’t want another mother to live with this unrelieved, unremitting pain that I have to live with the rest of my life of not having my son.”
For its part, the University initiated, as a permanent part of its campus web site, a web link describing their alcohol policy and programs emphasizing what they do to educate students about the dangers of excessive alcohol use. Their action was clearly linked to Heideman’s death as the new web link begins with the recognition that “Our campus was saddened by the tragic and senseless death of Adrian Heideman on October 7, 2000.”
While announcing that it beefed up staffing by adding a new professional to advise Greek organizations, another professional staff member at the Campus Alcohol and Drug Education Program and assigning a faculty member to assist the University President in assessing alcohol issues, the University also made clear on the web site the legal limitations under which it operates stating:
“One of the major challenges facing the campus is that 90% of its students live off-campus and the University does not have the legal authority to invoke University disciplinary sanctions to address students’ off-campus misconduct. The University’s authority is restrained by many court cases, confirming that colleges and universities do not have jurisdiction to impose discipline for misconduct that occurs off-campus unless it is at a campus-sponsored event. In California, students who are 18 and older are considered legal adults and, accordingly, are held legally responsible for their own conduct and behavior, wherever that may be. While on campus or at a campus sponsored activity, students are subject to all University policies and disciplinary sanctions, including those addressing alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, as strong as both the University’s alcohol policy and concerns regarding alcohol abuse are, that policy does not apply to student behavior occurring off-campus.”
While results are mixed across the country, Cal State Chico makes valid points. Increasingly, courts are pointing out that those students who are adults for all other purposes, but underage for the purpose of drinking, are responsible for their own conduct when they choose to consume or even abuse alcohol while underage. Some state courts have specifically recognized that universities do not have a duty to protect students from their own misconduct.
Individual responsibility, however, does not relieve the criminal misconduct of those who supplied the alcohol to the underage drinkers.
As reported in the March 200 I issue of Fraternal Law, three members of the Pi Kappa Phi Chapter, including its President, were criminally prosecuted for “providing alcohol to a minor causing death.” The chapter president and the two members who purchased the alcohol, all pied guilty and were sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Presumably the remorse they showed over Heideman’s death accounted, at least in part, for the lightness of the sentence. They may not be as fortunate as the lawsuit against them, their chapter and national proceeds.
[2001 FRATERNAL LAW CONFERENCE:
This issue includes detailed information regarding the 2001 Fraternal Law Conference which takes place November 9-10 in Cincinnati, Ohio. A conference registration form is also attached.
This meeting of fraternity executives, student fraternity leaders, university and Greek affairs representatives and their attorneys provides an opportunity for all parties to meet and discuss current issues and events with the goal of ensuring a healthy and vital Greek system.]