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Capital Region News

College Community Shaken By Student Death

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The University at Albany is mourning the death of Trevor Duffy, a 19-year-old sophomore who died after a drinking binge that may be the result of a fraternity hazing incident.  

Thousands of college students a year drink so much they are hospitalized or even die.

A call to Albany 911 dispatchers around 2 a.m. Sunday reported "an intoxicated man in need of medical attention" at a house at 461 Hamilton Street in the Pine Hills section, depicted by neighbors as a notorious "party house," which some reports have suggested may be an illegal fraternity house.  Five 19-year olds ended up hospitalized. Four were treated for excessive alcohol consumption and released. The fifth was Trevor Duffy, who died.  A UAlbany spokesman replied to a request for comment by email, stating that perhaps later in the week "someone" could speak about the incident.

Mike Mansky of residential rehab center Hope House tells NewsChannel 13 there's a culture of binge drinking on and around college campuses, and it's got to end.    "People that are 19-, 20-, 21 that go to college say, here I am, free from parents, I can do what I want. Nothing is gonna happen to me and quite the contrary, things do happen,” explained Mansky. “There's nothing anyone can do to bring back that life all because of being invincible and wanting to fit in.”

Town-gown issues have divided Albany, like many college towns, in the past, from the destruction of Kegs ‘N Eggs to complaints about drunken students in residential areas. But Duffy’s death is a stark reminder that college high jinx can quickly get out of hand.

Leah Golby represents the 10th ward on the Common Council.    "We have some streets with some really densely populated student areas, and there are notorious houses that long-term neighbors on each block are aware of. I don't live on that block, but I live a couple of blocks away, and the long-term neighbors on my block are always very vigilant at the beginning of the school year to reach out to new neighbors and do the best we can to establish a good relationship."

Students told WNYT they suspect the incident happened within an underground fraternity — one not recognized by UAlbany — where alcohol is used to "challenge" pledges who are hoping to find new friends and make a better "fit" with college life.   One student at UAlbany told Time Warner Cable News that "There WAS some hazing, some pledging going on over at the 'Underground ZBT' house."

No word as to who provided the alcohol to the underage people in that house. Police have not filed any charges in the case. The Albany Police Department did not return phone calls.   

Robin Cohen-La Valle, Dean of Students at State University of New York at New Paltz, explains how the mid-Hudson Valley college encourages students from distant cities to build bonds and make friends.  "We talk with students about making healthy choices, about the fact that they're part of a community and they need to also watch out for each other, so we have no punitive results if someone is reporting that someone else is in danger. We focus a lot on bystander intervention and responsibility, and we have an ethics policy, which we call our good samaritan policy, which focuses on students helping other people in need, as well as the fact that we grant medical amnesty, which means that if a student sees that another student is in danger because of alcohol or other drugs, there won't be any type of judicial consequence against the student reporting."

On November 12th, on an account on Twitter that appears to be Duffy’s, he wrote:   "In desperate need of an 8 hour long Adderall/coffee-fueled study session."  Adderall  is used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD. It can be deadly when mixed with alcohol.

UAlbany's president Robert Jones released a statement to students Monday. It reads in part, "Our campus counselors are ready to assist and comfort students in dealing with this horrible tragedy."

Duffy will be returned to the Bronx with a funeral service to be held Friday in Riverdale.  Again, Leah Golby.    "I came to Albany from New York City just like he did, as a college student - the bottom line is that it's tragic that a 19-year-old lost his life to alcohol consumption."

One of Duffy's last tweets was posted online Friday  November 14th - it reads:

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