UB needs to do more to honor, respond to Sebastian Serafin-Bazan’s death
Last week, we lost one of our own.
Freshman Sebastian Serafin-Bazan died on April 17, six days after alleged hazing at the Sigma Pi fraternity in the University Heights.
His roommates described him as a dedicated student. They no longer see his Post-It note reminding him of his goal to get a 4.0.
He won’t graduate with us.
UB President Satish Tripathi issued a letter to students and suspended all Greek activities for the rest of the semester.
But aside from counselors available in the Student Union, where were the vigils and other outlets for students to express their condolences, hurt, pain and grief?
We’re saddened and wished for more.
We hate to imagine it is because his death coincided with Accepted Students weekend.
Our editors last week reported seeing overturned copies of our front-page memorial story on Sebastian so the headline and photo were not readily legible to visiting parents and students.
We assume this was an anomaly; we can’t believe anyone imagines this story will fade.
We know administrators and the UB Office of Communication sent out emails suggesting faculty be careful what they post on social media as the campus reeled from the shock.
But why did no one help students publicly mourn?
Media across the country –– including the New York Times, CNN and USA Today — covered the death. Sadly, our campus gave them no reason to cover a celebration of his life.
Students could have lit candles and held hands.
Campus Life’s Fraternity and Sorority Life could have spearheaded a vigil.
Instead, it’s far from the public eye.
Our paper remains the only one in the nation to have talked to people who knew Sebastian and to describe him as a person, not as a statistic. Sebastian was a student, just like us. His story should not fade away.
Spectrum reporters have contacted UB’s director of Greek life, Pamela Stephens-Jackson, numerous times asking for details about Greek life on campus, how her office monitors fraternities and sororities and how many students have been suspended in recent years for hazing-related incidents.
This is crucial information we need to understand the environment in which we live and study. It’s also crucial information accepted students need as they decide if they want to attend this university.
In an email on April 17, Stephens-Jackson said, “I am in direct contact with the students that I serve, but do not have any public comment.”
We want Stephens-Jackson to understand that she serves all students, even if they are not in fraternities or sororities.
These are your questions and UB employees should provide you answers.
We want to learn what her office does, how it has been working and if it potentially failed to monitor Greek life on this campus.
We also want to know what she is doing to honor Sebastian’s memory.
Sebastian’s family has experienced unimaginable heartbreak this week. So have his roommates and his friends.
These, too, are the students this university serves.
A. Scott Weber, Vice President for Student Life, has promised a thorough review of Greek policies.
We’d like to see this, too. Will his findings be public? We hope so. We feel students are owed that.
Sebastian was studying medical technology. He liked to laugh with his roommates late at night and he loved soccer.
We are still trying to understand why he died. That could take weeks, perhaps months.
But it should not stop us from remembering how he lived.
The editorial board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.