Campus: CSU, Chico -- June 22, 2001

University Acts Against Campus Organization in Response to Student Death

California State University, Chico president Manuel A. Esteban has taken action against the campus-based Construction Management Association (CMA) based on a preliminary campus investigation and Union Pacific investigation following the death of CSU, Chico freshman John Barbaro.

Barbaro, 19, was struck and killed by a train as he lay on the Union Pacific tracks near Lake Shasta in the early morning of April 29. He had accompanied 25 fellow students on a weekend water-skiing trip organized by members of the CMA, a CSU, Chico student group.

Union Pacific Railroad Police special agent Randy Anderson has found that alcohol was used during the weekend trip and was available to Barbaro. Anderson's report lists the probable cause of death as accidental, speculating that Barbaro may have fallen asleep in an intoxicated state on the railroad tracks. Anderson's report states that Barbaro had an alcohol level of .25 at the time of his death.

Based on the information received this week, Esteban has temporarily withdrawn university support of CMA activities, including the CMA's use of all university facilities, pending further investigation. The group currently uses a campus office and other equipment to conduct activities for some students who major in construction management. Esteban said he will consider other possible actions at a later date.

"The death of John Barbaro is a horrible tragedy that has shaken students, faculty and staff of the university," said Esteban. "The fact that alcohol probably played a role in his death adds immeasurably to the tragedy. The university cannot tolerate the abuse of alcohol and the horrific effects it has on our students.

"We will continue to work with and educate student groups, particularly as it pertains to occasions where alcohol could be available," Esteban said. "Students, faculty, staff and administrators must all play a part in finding a solution to the crisis of alcohol abuse."

In December, Esteban banned the Chico chapter of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity in response to the alcohol-related death of freshman Adrian Heideman, which took place at the fraternity house Oct. 7. The ban followed a university investigation into Heideman's death as well as a review of student organization rules, activities and advising by faculty and staff. Three Pi Kappa Phi members pled no contest to misdemeanor charges of furnishing alcohol to a minor causing death and received 30-day jail sentences.

Esteban said efforts to educate the campus community about high-risk drinking behavior, the penalties of under-age drinking and the benefits of alcohol-free activities had significantly increased over the past year. "It may be we still need to do much more," he said.

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