Greeks hold vigil for USU freshman

By Jeremy Thompson, Staff Writer

More than 250 members of the greek community gathered together Monday night on the steps of the Sigma Nu fraternity house to honor Michael Starks, an 18-year-old freshman at Utah State University and member of the Sigma Nu fraternity, who died two weeks ago from alcohol-related abuse after a fraternity party.

While surrounded by candles, greek students placed a sign that said, “We stand together this evening as one…may your passing stand as a timeless lesson to us all,” to remember the loss of the fraternity brother.

Alex Walker, president of the U’s Sigma Nu chapter, organized the event to pay tribute to Starks and offer a way for students to deal with their grief.

“We did this as a way of showing our brotherhood and support for our fellow members,” Walker said. “Although this did not happen on our campus, we still feel a strong connection to our brothers.”

Father Peter Rodgers of the St. Catherine of Siena Newman Center presided over the service.

“His loss is our loss in Logan and throughout the country, no matter what university we attend,” Rodgers said.

After the news of Starks’ passing spread, responses were emotional and varied across campuses.

“I think most students were in complete shock,” said Jay Wilgus, the assistant dean of students and the U’s adviser to Greek Row. “Though this did not occur on our campus, most students described it as a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach. A feeling of “how could this happen to us?’ and “this is not real.'”

Wilgus said the candlelight vigil gives students a way to deal with any grief they are feeling.

Leaders of the greek community want to make sure they do everything within their power to prevent a similar tragedy at the U.

“We want to be sure it doesn’t happen here,” Rodgers said at the ceremony. “We watch out for one another. We take care of each other, no matter what happens.”

Wilgus said he can’t remember the U greeks ever having lost a member to alcohol poisoning at one of their own parties.

“Hopefully we can keep it that way,” Wilgus said. “Although we are prepared for the worst, we hope to never hold one of these for one of our own.”

Wilgus said that once students pledge, they go through an online training and a separate class about the dangers of alcohol abuse. He said the U greeks don’t plan to increase training because there have been no reported problems on campus.

“Although I didn’t know Michael personally, it is still important to remember,” said Sydney Bagrou, a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. “All of us are part of the same community.”

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Lucas Isley

Sigma Nu hosted a candle light vigil Monday night for a fraternity brother from another chapter that passed away from alcohol poisoning. Several of the neighboring Fraternities and Sororities attended to honor the memory of Michael Starks.