Nik Tritch is trying to get back into a normal routine after being hospitalized for more than two weeks.
Tritch, sophomore finance major from Clovis, Calif., suffered an electric shock during Sub T-16 pledging activities, but he returned to class late last week seemingly recovered. Dr. Jeff Arrington, associate vice president for Student Life, has followed up closely with Tritch and confirmed he is doing well, as far as his health is concerned.
“Nik’s words are that he is ‘doing good’ and things are getting back to normal,” Arrington said. “He’s getting caught up in his classes and says he is a proud member of Sub T-16.”
However, the event was a serious one, and the university is addressing it as such. All physical pledging activities were suspended for the rest of the year, and a group of administrators and social club members will begin meeting in the next few weeks to discuss revisions to the pledging policy. Thompson was very clear, though; the accident was not an issue of poor student conduct nor was the decision to cease physical activity a punishment of social clubs.
“We’re always forced as a university to constantly reassess risk,” Thompson said. “We’re doing kind of a broader look at overall risk of activities. I can guarantee you we’re taking a close look at being very clear in developing an inclement weather policy and protocol.”
Social club leaders and members will work closely with administration beginning in the next few weeks to help shape through open dialogue, Thompson said.
“I’ve been trying to understand how to do two things,” he said. “Preserving the unique traditions and heritage of each of those groups, because I do think that’s important, but trying to be as prudent as we can on student safety and legal obligations, as well, for the university.”
The decision to stop physical activity after the event, Thompson said, was in the interest of student safety, but more so, was done out of respect for Tritch. He said the clubs have complied to the letter so far. Any clubs that have questions about activities were invited to come speak with Thompson, because, he said, there is not a “perfect black and white” when it comes to defining “physical activity.”
Most clubs will be affected very little, he said, because this took place so close to the end of pledging activities. But, decisions will need to be made soon so clubs will know the rules for next year. A task force met three years ago to discuss an overall agenda of student safety of which the pledging process is a small part, and they are set to review the policy next fall. However, Thompson said he is expecting a decision on this particular issue to come down in the spring.
Thompson said he is confident a good decision can and will be made, although he does not expect 100 percent agreement. He reiterated the benefit of social clubs, while maintaining the importance of safety.
“Our social club system and these groups bring incredible value to the university, and one of the ways we can enhance and support it most is to make sure that their activities are in line with the vision and values of the university, particularly from a safety and legal standpoint,” he said. “To the extent that we can get better and more effective in risk management and safety and preserve tradition, great. That’s where we’re trying to go.”