In honor of his memory, Drew Everson's fraternity Pi Kappa Phi will hold a start-up contest on campus safety Nov. 22.
Everson, a senior at the time of his death, died in Oct. 2010 after sustaining severe head and body trauma from an accidental fall. Acute ethanol intoxication was a “contributing condition” to the blunt trauma of the head due to a fall, which was fatal, according to the report issued Jan. 14 by the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner office.
The fraternity decided to hold the event because it is the first year no current members will have been in the fraternity when Everson was a member. In past years, the PiKapp brothers have dedicated a day to sharing memories of their time with Everson. Senior Tom Boyle, president of Pi Kappa Phi, noted, however, that because the current fraternity members have not had experiences with Everson, it made more sense to create a start-up contest that would both commemorate Everson and spread the word about campus safety.
“Drew was huge in the debate team. The [contest] format is really about getting up there, presenting and arguing your point and getting judged by a panel of judges,” Boyle said.
Although Boyle was not a part of PiKapp when Everson was, Boyle noted that he had met him a few times at the beginning of his freshman year, most notably at a PiKapp barbecue first semester.
“He was kind of an infectious, big personality. You noticed him around campus,” Boyle said. “The first time I met him... we spent two hours just talking about our experiences.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta noted the campus-wide grief after Everson’s death but said the long-term effects on campus safety considerations have not been as influential as they could be.
“The outpouring of emotion and the immediate effect he had on people was nothing short of amazing,” Moneta said. “I would say sadly it didn’t have the long-term effect relative to other dangerous behaviors… Our students can still take life for granted a bit and presume immortality come with admissions.”
But the unfortunate lack of attention on campus safety after Everson's passing makes this event particularly timely, Moneta said. He was selected as a judge for the contest and noted that the competition, though it is not guaranteed to have a positive effect on campus safety, will not have a regressive one.
Campus safety is an issue at all universities and an important one to address, said Clarybel Peguero, assistant dean and director of fraternity and sorority life. Bringing students into the decision-making process will give the administration an interesting perspective, she added.
The event—which will be sponsored by the Interfraternity Council—hopes to have financial support from the Student Wellness Center that will account only for accessory costs. The first place winner will be awarded a cash prize and have their start-up idea implemented by the University, Boyle said.
The fraternity will begin advertising next week, starting with social media alerts, a note in Duke Student Government weekly emailblasts and tabling on the Bryan Center Plaza during the week preceding the event. Boyle said that he hopes not only students unaffiliated with PiKapp will participate but also some of the fraternity brothers themselves.
He also noted that the event commemorates Everson but is not trying to have his alcohol abuse overshadow his legacy.
"Our hope is that people will interpret the event outside of the specific scenario," Boyle said. "That’s why we tried to get a balanced judging panel."
Aside from Moneta and Peguero, the judging panel will include Tom Szigethy, associate dean and director of the Wellness Center, senior Stefani Jones, president of Duke Student Government, and senior Jack Riker, president of the Interfraternity Council.
The story has been updated to included details on the cause of Drew Everson's death.