Local News

Duke Student's Death Caused by Binge Drinking

Posted February 17, 2000

— For the third time this month,Duke Universityis dealing with the consequences of college drinking.

New information about the death of a Duke University student suggests the fatality was alcohol-related.

Raheem Bath, 20, died in November after a bout with pneumonia. Administrators now say his illness was brought on by binge drinking.

Bath was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, which was suspended this month following reports of excessive drinking. The fraternity has been on probation and was in trouble recently for a mixer withPi Beta Phi sorority. Pi Phi was also suspended this month amid accusations of alcohol abuse.

Bath's fraternity brothers say he was not involved in a fraternity activity the night his drinking caused the illness; university administrators confirm that.

Nevertheless, Bath's death has everyone on campus thinking.

"We're looking at ourselves in depth and trying to analyze what else we can do as our fraternity to raise more awareness amongst us and amongst the Duke community about binge drinking or drinking on campus," says Ramesh Grandhi, a friend of the victim.

A few weeks ago, a female student developed a similar infection said to be caused by binge drinking. She survived.

In both cases, the students did not got sick immediately. They both became ill with an infection called aspiration pneumonia a few days after drinking.

Dr. Vic Tapson ofDuke Medical Centersays many patients, if they survive that initial assault to their bodies, will do OK for awhile.

"The lungs have been damaged, though possibly temporarily, and because of that damage, they are more susceptible to infection," Tapson says.

Janet Dickerson, vice president of Student Affairs, says university administrators are very concerned about the situation.

"What we haven't done maybe is straight talking," Dickerson says. "We're pointing out that it's not just a possibility out there in the distance."

Administrators do have educational programs in place, but they are also going to be working with people at theMedical Centerand speaking with the Board of Trustees about what else they can do.

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