18 minutes – that's how long it took Stone Foltz to empty the liter bottle of Evan Williams Whiskey. The 20-year-old in Delaware, Ohio, wanted to be accepted into a fraternity at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) through this dangerous ritual. In the end he paid with his life.
Stone Foltz was a sophomore. The entrance exam for new members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was held in a house off campus. On the evening of March 4, 2021, he and other new members of the fraternity were initially led blindfolded into a basement. There they should then drink the high-proof alcohol. The 20-year-old emptied the bottle and then vomited. Barely able to stand, other members took him to his apartment, where they left him on the couch.
When a roommate got home, he called the student's girlfriend to take care of the unconscious man. Foltz eventually stopped breathing, his lips turned blue, and his girlfriend called an ambulance while the roommate administered CPR. Despite their best efforts, the doctors could not save him. Foltz died of alcohol poisoning. On March 7, they turned off life support and approved his organs for transplantation.
After the incident, the student's parents sued the fraternity, its members and the university. In their lawsuit, they accused the school of failing to stop fraternity harassment even though they knew about it. American connections and their parties are notorious. Again and again the media report on dangerous rituals that go far beyond the mark. One trend is so-called binge drinking. New members are forced to consume large amounts of alcohol in order to become part of a group. In doing so, they put themselves in a life-threatening situation, just like Stone Foltz.
On Monday, the parents' lawsuit against the university over bullying ended with a $3 million settlement. Both parties have stated that they will work to eliminate harassment on college campuses. "This decision saves the Foltz family and the BGSU community from witnessing the tragedy in the courtroom for years to come and allows us to focus on advancing our common mission: eradicating bullying in Ohio and across the country," it said in the statement.
The university settlement comes on top of the more than $7 million paid to the family by the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and those who played a role in the harassment, according to court documents. After the death, Bowling Green expelled Pi Kappa Alpha, stating that the organization would never again be recognized on campus.
Eight former members of the fraternity have either pleaded guilty or were found guilty of various charges, bullying and supplying alcohol to minors.
However, two of the eight accused were acquitted of more serious charges such as involuntary manslaughter last year. Her defense attorneys had argued that Foltz was not compelled or required to finish the entire bottle and that he made that decision of his own volition.
Stone Foltz's parents have since set up a foundation dedicated to educating students at other universities about bullying and the dangers of bullying. "We can continue our fight and save lives," said Stone Foltz's mother.
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Quellen: NBC-News, "The Columbus Dispatch", Associated Press