Fight Night at Frat

A student wonders what happened early Saturday morning at the Zeta Beta Tau house.
Administration claims no party

By Paul Szaniawski and Olivia Tattory

An alleged fight at the Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity house on Sept. 29 resulted in multiple charges for ZBT brother John Goodleaf and “bleeding on the brain” for campus visitor Andrew Endicott, police reported. Both men were charged with underage drinking.

The incident occurred in the first semester since the alcohol-related death of freshman Gary DeVercelly last spring and in the midst of a University crackdown on alcohol abuse, including a ban on alcohol-related events in Greek houses.

The Lawrence Township Police Department (LTPD) received a call around 4 a.m. Saturday reporting a head injury on campus. Public Safety was also dispatched to the scene at 4:15 a.m. after LTPD notified them an ambulance was en route to a reported medical emergency.

“We were notified of a physical assault involving a visitor,” said Director of Public Safety Vickie Weaver.

Near the front entrance of Hill Residence Hall, Public Safety officers found 19-year-old Endicott “injured and bleeding from the head,” and he was taken to Capital Health System – Fuld Campus in Trenton.

According to reports, he was able to answer basic questions but could not provide information about who assaulted him or why, just that it had happened at ZBT. Endicott was released from the hospital on Monday.

Once LTPD was at the scene, the investigation was turned over to them, said Weaver. Since that point, the case and any further investigation has been in the hands of LTPD.

“We’re letting the police conduct their investigation,” said Weaver. “Rider Public Safety has not conducted any investigation.”

Although the first newspaper reports of the incident said the scuffle occurred at a “party,” University spokesperson Dan Higgins was later quoted as saying that it was not a party.

The word is significant because new University policies prohibit “social events or parties in residence halls or Greek houses where alcoholic beverages are served.”

“[The University] had never said it was a party,” said Higgins, in response to media reports earlier in the week. “It was an incident between two individuals. There was no fraternity party.”

Recently implemented campus policy requires regular walkthroughs and, according to Higgins, Public Safety began the final walkthrough of the Greek houses at 3:15 a.m. No disturbances were reported.

According to Lt. Charles Edgar of LTPD, once police got word of the severity of Endicott’s injuries, they began their investigation. After arriving to the ZBT fraternity house, LTPD officers reported that they saw anywhere from 15 to 30 people inside the basement area.

“I don’t know exactly how many people were there,” said Edgar. “The officers who were at the scene reported that approximate number.”

Weaver said it isn’t the numbers that define a party.

“You have to look at the dynamics, look at the behavior,” she said.

When asked for comment about the number of students LTPD observed Saturday night, Higgins said that at the time he had not spoken with the police directly and did not hear that number.

However, during a later phone conversation, Higgins said the number of students was no cause for suspicion.

“There is nothing abnormal about that number of people being [in the basement of ZBT],” said Higgins. “It’s a resident house where they live. There wasn’t anything going on with them or any party.”

Mark Fisher, the University’s new substance abuse prevention specialist, said that if it was in fact a party, it was not permitted. Fisher also pointed out that ZBT is “very aware of what the new policies are.”

Goodleaf, a junior majoring in advertising, faces charges of aggravated assault, underage drinking, possession of marijuana under 50 grams, and intent to distribute the same drug. The visitor, Endicott, was charged with underage drinking and possession of under 50 grams of marijuana.

In addition to the criminal charges, Higgins confirmed that Goodleaf is facing disciplinary action from the University.

“The Rider student is going through Rider’s discipline process,” said Higgins.

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