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Letter: UB’s Sigma Pi tragedy could have been avoided

The serious incident at 69 Custer St. concerning Sigma Pi fraternity was an accident waiting to happen. As a longtime resident of University Heights, I have watched how the University at Buffalo handles their students who reside in the neighborhood.

UB has never taken long lasting positive steps in regards to the safety of their students living off campus. It seems somewhat incongruous when UB President Satish Tripathi says, in The Buffalo News on March 13, “I ask you to keep this student – one of our own – and his family in your thoughts.” UB should have aggressively cracked down on the fraternity and sorority partying that took place for years in the University Heights Community.

UB could have curtailed the parties simply by limiting the campus bus schedules and ensuring that the passengers returning to the North Campus were even somewhat sober even though most of them were underage.

Although there is a memorandum of understanding among UB, University Police, City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Police Department to jointly patrol problem areas, additional patrolling of University Heights by UB’s police department was scant if not nonexistent. It took an aggressive enforcement effort by the Buffalo Police directed by the last two chiefs of E District and the intervention of the New York State Attorney General’s Office to bring the partying under control.

Long before the advent of social media there might have been a need for this type of socialization; in my opinion that ship has sailed.

I commend Tripathi’s decision to suspend all Greek activities at UB until the fall semester, as a step in the right direction.

I would also ask that UB work closely with the city to ensure that all off campus fraternity and sorority “houses” are in compliance with all applicable health and safety regulations of New York State. If not, they should be vacated and not rented until all violations are corrected.

Fred Brace


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