Friday, September 03, 2010

High Schooler Falls from Fraternity House Window

WMU fraternity suspended after woman's fall
KIM KOZLOWSKI The Detroit News

Kalamazoo -- Western Michigan University suspended Sigma Pi fraternity Wednesday and city officials condemned the fraternity's house as an investigation launches into how an 18-year-old woman fell from a second-story balcony and fractured her skull.

A Portland, Mich., resident fell from a balcony at the fraternity house during a party early Wednesday morning, said Lt. Mark Sheffer of the Kalamazoo Public Safety Department. She was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital, where she remained in critical condition.

The woman, whose name was not released, did not attend WMU, said university spokeswoman Cheryl Roland.

"We're very concerned about her as an individual and the fact that this happened near our campus," Roland said.

On Wednesday morning, three Kalamazoo city officials went to the house at 1714 Fraternity Village Drive. They found a number of safety violations, including disabled fire alarms, sprinkling systems and unsafe deck and stairs, said Tim Meulenberg, Kalamazoo code administration manager.

"The place was trashed," Meulenberg said. "It's been ordered to be immediately vacated. They (residents) will not be expected to be there tonight. Public safety will be keeping an eye on it to make sure nobody stays there."

It was unclear how many people were living in the house, which was rented.

Meanwhile, WMU covered the Greek letters on the house and ordered all of the social organization's activities to stop, said Diane Anderson, vice president of student affairs.

Kalamazoo police, along with the university and the national fraternity, will try to determine what happened. If the university and the fraternity determine there were any policy violations, sanctions will be imposed.

The incident occurred a day after new students moved into the dorms in preparation for classes that start Tuesday.

This is not the first time a serious accident has been linked to a fraternity at a college university. In the fall of 1998, a University of Michigan student, Courtney Cantor, 18, died after falling from the sixth-story window of her dorm. She had been drinking beer and champagne given to her by members of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. After her death, the Washtenaw County prosecutor charged 10 fraternity members with providing alcohol to a minor and her family filed a $25,000 lawsuit against the fraternity's national organization and the 10 members who were charged. Cantor's father, George Cantor, was a former columnist for The Detroit News.

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