It hasn't been a great couple of years for fraternities at the University of Kansas. Just two months ago, FIJI pledge Matt Fritzie dove into a makeshift pool at a party and became paralyzed. Here's the weird part: Even after the student was airlifted to the ER, the party allegedly continued. The University Daily Kansan spoke to students who were at the party, who said that no one was talking about Fritzie.
A similar aura of silence surrounds last year's death of KU freshman Jason Wren, claims his father Jay. In March 2009, Jason drank too much at his SAE frat house; the next day, he was found dead at the house.
According to the Lawrence
Journal-World, Wren's father filed a wrongful death lawsuit against SAE, 10 frat members, and the frat house owner. Jay Wren claims none of the defendants did anything to prevent his clearly intoxicated son from drinking more alcohol.
Jay Wren's attorney argues that the KU frat hasn't done anything to prevent a similar death from happening again. In April of this year, SAE used chapter money to buy alcohol for underage pledges. The boozefest happened less than a week before the frat held the Jason Wren Initiative, a seminar about underage drinking held in memory of the fallen frat member.
The irony was lost on SAE's attorney Michael Seck, who called the incident "irrelevant" to the case. Seck added that 22 members were already kicked out of the frat in the aftermath of that incident. And anyway, Seck said, incidents occurring after Wren's death could not be used as evidence to collect punitive damages.
Last month, SAE senior Jeffrey Wilson wrote a letter to the editor in the University Daily Kansan arguing that the frat has indeed changed drastically since Wren's death. "Hard liquor is prohibited on the property and beer can only be consumed by members who are over the age of 21," he wrote. He mentioned the Jason Wren Initiative, but didn't bring up the April alcohol run for underage pledges.
Sadly, it gets much, much worse. After Wren's death, his younger sister committed suicide. His mother Mary killed herself a few months later. The trial was delayed because
of the multiple suicides. Jay Wren will soon be the only plaintiff in the trial, set to begin next April.