Alfred University family dealing with student's death

Rob Montana

Losing a member of a family - even an extended one like a student at a university - takes its toll emotionally.

Alfred University is dealing with such a loss in the wake of the death of 21-year-old Thomas Argentieri, a senior finance major in the university's College of Business. His death has been linked to an altercation at a party at 57 N. Main St. with another AU male student. The preliminary results of a post-mortem examination Monday have not been released by authorities, who are waiting to do so when all the testing is completed. They also are holding off any possible charges until those results are in.

AU conducted a brief memorial Monday afternoon, ringing the carillon bells 21 times, as well as the school's interfaith advisor, Rev. Laurie DeMott, offering a prayer.

Counselors also have been available around the clock since Sunday, offering support for students, faculty and staff reeling from the death of Argentieri.

“We're trying to offer as much support as possible to students, faculty and staff,” said AU spokesperson Sue Goetschius. “Because this is such a small community, everybody knows everybody or recognizes everybody.

“It's likely many people were touched by this,” she added. “The counseling center has been available 24 hours a day for anybody who has any concerns.”

Approximately 50 people were on hand for the short ceremony Monday, and Goetschius said Alfred U. will have a memorial service for Argentieri in the spring semester. When it will take place has not been determined, she said. A service in the spring is necessary since the semester has ended, and final exams are taking place this week. Come next week, a majority of the students will not be around Alfred, having headed out on winter break.

“It is difficult because of the time of year it is,” Goetschius said.

The university is also working with students having a difficult time completing their academic requirements because they are dealing with Argentieri's death.

“We're trying to accommodate those students as we can,” Goetschius said. “We're referring them to the counseling center, and the center is working with them to determine how they can meet their academic requirements.”

In addition to a longer memorial service, Alfred University also is holding up its own investigation into the matter until the police investigation is complete. Goetschius said that's so the university doesn't interfere in the law enforcement probe.

“Once the police investigation is concluded, and the district attorney and police have made their determination, the university will determine whether or not there will be any disciplinary action,” she said.

Argentieri lived on campus, but the altercation took place off campus. AU works hard to ensure its students are good residents of the village, Goetschius said.

“All the time,” she said, when asked if the university addresses such issues with its students. “We talk about behavior from the moment they arrive on campus.

“Students who live off campus have to take a seminar in off-campus living,” Goetschius added.

There also has been some question if the altercation was the result of rival fraternities that may have been operating in an underground manner. That was ruled out by Alfred Police Chief Tim O'Grady, but he did say the party at 57 N. Main St. is believed to have been a semi-formal type of party. He said the affiliation is unknown at this point.

Goetschius said any students involved in underground fraternity activity would be subject to disciplinary action. That's because the Greek system was eliminated by the AU Board of Trustees about five years ago, following the death of Benjamin Klein, a junior Alfred U. student who was a member of Zeta Beta Tau.

“If we become aware an underground fraternity is operating, we would take disciplinary action against those students,” Goetschius said. “Our students are not permitted to join fraternities.”