UMN responds to alcohol-related fraternity death

Following the death of Alpha Gamma Rho member Dylan Fulton, the University will meet with campus Greek officials to examine current policy.

Alpha Gamma Rho is seen on Wednesday, Oct. 10 near the Saint Paul campus. A member of the fraternity died as a result of alcohol-related complications in September.

Ellen Schmidt

Alpha Gamma Rho is seen on Wednesday, Oct. 10 near the Saint Paul campus. A member of the fraternity died as a result of alcohol-related complications in September.

Kelly Busche and Madeline Deninger

Following the second alcohol-related death of a campus fraternity member within a year, the University of Minnesota is in the midst of re-examining Greek life policy. 

University sophomore Dylan Fulton, 20, was found dead by his fellow Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity members the morning of Sept. 12. He died due to alcohol-related complications, according to an autopsy report released Tuesday. In response to Fulton’s death, the University began an initiative in mid-September to review campus Greek life policy.

The recently launched review includes meetings with Greek leaders from all four of the University’s Greek councils, as well as meetings between individual chapter presidents and representatives from the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said spokesperson for University Student Unions and Activities Steve Henneberry.

The goals of the meetings include identifying campus policy improvement and discussing the individual chapters’ current risk management strategies and education policies.

“All of the Greek organizations have a lot of educational efforts already in place, and so part of the goal of these meetings is to share … what is currently happening and how can there be an effort to enhance the educational opportunities where they exist,” Henneberry said.

The safety review committee was organized to increase chapter accountability. 

“From student affairs … we appreciate that these students and these chapters are stepping up and taking some ownership of what they can do to help create this culture change,” Henneberry said.

In response to Fulton’s death, University President Eric Kaler issued a statement on Sept. 13 that urged all Greek chapters to “immediately” implement the North-American Interfraternity Conference ban on alcohol over 15 percent by volume. 

Following Kaler’s letter, members of the University’s Interfraternity Council, which includes Alpha Gamma Rho, implemented the ban on Sept. 30 — approximately one year before the NIC’s ban is scheduled to go into effect nationwide.  

The international chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho is investigating a possible breach of the fraternity’s policies in relation to Fulton’s death, Henneberry said. 

The University will not conduct an investigation until Alpha Gamma Rho completes its own, but the outcome of the investigation could impact the University’s decision to investigate, he said.

The international chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho was unable to comment on the report or University response at the time of publication. 

This is the second death of a University fraternity member following the consumption of alcohol this year. 

Mitchell Hoenig, 20, died in February after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol during a night that began with official Gamma Phi Beta sorority events and ended at a Dinkytown apartment. The international headquarters of Gamma Phi Beta sanctioned the University’s chapter for violating its policies. 

In response to the Minnesota Daily’s article detailing the events leading to Hoenig’s death, the University expressed disapproval of the Daily’s decision to run the story. 

“Mitchell was a valued member of our community and we join his family in continuing to mourn his loss. It is disappointing that the Minnesota Daily is choosing to publish a story against the wishes of the Hoenig family, who we continue to support and work with as they grieve,” said Maggie Towle, the University interim vice provost for student affairs and dean of students, in an emailed statement through a University spokesperson in April.

According to the Pioneer Press, a statement from Fulton’s family reads: “It is with a very heavy heart that I share this but I want people to know the real Dylan and not let this horrific, unimaginable tragedy define the man Dylan truly was. This could have been anyone’s son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin … GOOD KID.”

The statement went on to share that Fulton, who was studying animal science, maintained a 4.0 GPA both semesters he attended the University. He is originally from South Dakota and was an officer of Alpha Gamma Rho.

A September statement from Rex Martin, CEO of Alpha Gamma Rho, said: “The depths of their grief are unimaginable, and we will to do anything we can to support them at this difficult time. We are grateful for the support the University has provided.”