Six months after the University began a review of sophomore Laura Treanor’s death from alcohol poisoning, University President Steven Knapp announced the review has concluded and the University has decided to alter the alcohol amnesty policy in hopes of preventing a similar incident.
In a statement sent to The Hatchet Wednesday, Knapp said the review sparked three main changes to the University’s alcohol education and enforcement programs, which include increasing student awareness on what to do if a friend is intoxicated, encouraging parental involvement if a student has abused alcohol in the past, and providing more information about alcohol abuse to the campus community.
Treanor, 19, was found dead in her Ivory Tower room on Jan. 23.
“[T]he purpose of GW’s review was to consider the circumstances surrounding Laura’s death to determine what steps the University might take in light of this tragic and unfortunate loss,” Knapp said in the statement.
The revised amnesty program will require that students meet with two separate professional staff members to “emphasize to the student, through personal contact, the importance of making informed and responsible decisions regarding alcohol use, so the student can be best equipped to avoid future alcohol abuse,” according to Knapp’s statement.
Vice President for External Relations Lorraine Voles declined to answer additional questions about Knapp’s statement and the review.
Senior Brittany Verga, Treanor’s roommate at the time, said Treanor had been EMeRGed the December before her death. Verga said Treanor finished the requirements for receiving amnesty after being EMeRGed, which included meeting with a professional staff member to assess whether additional treatment was necessary, participation in an alcohol education program, and paying a monetary fine. The families of underage students are notified in a written letter.
Verga said last month that Treanor was fully versed in the risks of alcohol abuse.
“The thing was, she went to all of the CADE seminars for her sorority, she was EMeRGed and she went through that process with the education there, so I think at that point its up to the individual,” Verga said.
Treanor’s mother was notified of the changes the University made to alcohol awareness and enforcement policies in a personal visit this week from University Police Department Chief Dolores Stafford, and Dean of Students Linda Donnels – two of the instrumental members in the review – at her home in New York.
But Ann-Marie Treanor, Laura’s mother, said in an interview Wednesday night that the visit did little to satisfy the one question no one has answered for her – what happened the night her daughter died. Treanor said the University had not contacted her with information she requested, including questions about where and with whom her daughter was drinking the night she died.
“They haven’t come in contact with us at all really, I almost always initiated the phone calls,” Treanor said. “Because they didn’t say anything that I didn’t already know. It’s – you know what, it’s a little bit too late for a lot of it.”
Ann-Marie Treanor said the University showed her a security tape of Laura coming home from a bar to Ivory Tower residence hall the night she died. The tape, which she says shows Laura walking in without stumbling, has raised questions for her about underage on-campus drinking.
“If somebody’s going to die from alcohol intoxication, when they come in at 2 o’clock and they have no signs or no apparent signs of being intoxicated, then a few hours later they don’t wake up, to me it’s a very reasonable assumption that their last drink, even though the University says they can’t tell, was on campus,” Treanor said.
Treanor’s mother said she was notified of her daughter’s EMeRG in a letter from the University in December. She said the new policies are an improvement over the existing procedures but expressed disappointment that the more stringent guidelines had not been in place before her daughter’s death.
“I’m very glad they’re changing the policy because maybe some other young man or woman will be saved by it,” she said.
Related: Bar closed before sophomore’s death (Oct. 1)