The University Record, October 21, 1998

Student dies in fall from Markley room

By Jane R. Elgass

More than 1,000 people attended the funeral Oct. 18 at Ira Kaufman Chapel in Southfield for Courtney Cantor, a first-year LS&A student who died Oct. 16 in a tragic accident outside Mary Markley Residence Hall.

Cantor, an LS&A student and member of the 21st Century Program in Markley, was the daughter of Detroit News columnist George Cantor and Sherry Cantor of West Bloomfield. Her sister Jaime Cantor is an LS&A senior.

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) received a call for assistance at approximately 5 a.m. Oct. 16 after Cantor was found unconscious outside the residence hall by a food service staff member reporting for work. DPS, Huron Valley Ambulance and the Ann Arbor Fire Department responded to the scene. Attempts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful. She was transported to the University Hospital Emergency Room where she was declared dead at 5:48 a.m.

At an Oct. 16 press conference, Provost Nancy Cantor (no relation) noted that she and Maureen Hartford, vice president for student affairs, had spent most of the morning at University Hospital with Cantor’s family. “We are all stunned and saddened by this. I and the whole University community extend our deepest sympathy to Courtney’s family.

“Having spent time at the hospital with the Cantors, I can say that Courtney was a terrific, outgoing, engaged student and friend of many. Even in her short time at Michigan, she created a close-knit community within the 21st Century living-learning program at Markley and had recently pledged Chi Omega sorority. She tackled her coursework with vigor. For example, her mother and father told us about a wonderful paper she had just written for her English composition course.”

“She had a bubbly personality, was a terrific writer, and had deep family roots,” Cantor added. “We are all shocked, stunned and reeling from this.”

Responding at the press conference to media rumors that alcohol may have been a factor in Courtney Cantor’s death, Cantor said: “What we can tell you is that Courtney attended a party Thursday night and that she had been drinking. We do not know for certain whether that was a factor in her fall, and we will not know for certain until we receive the results of an autopsy and conduct a more complete investigation.

“The focus here today is not on drinking,” Cantor added. “It is on the tragic death of a young person who was greatly loved in this community even though she was here only for a few months. Her friends at Markley are grieving deeply.”

Courtney Cantor was at Chi Omega Thursday evening, later visiting a fraternity, and then took a cab to Markley with three friends, according to DPS Director Leo J. Heatley.

Hartford noted at the press conference that the U-M “unfortunately in the past few years has had too much experience in dealing with tragedy,” adding that staff from Counseling and Psychological Services were working with Markley residents and members of Chi Omega, as well as visiting Cantor’s classes.

She also indicated that the fraternities and sororities had declared a moratorium on social events for the weekend.

Representatives of the national office of the fraternity were on campus early this week, working with Office of Student Affairs representatives to determine what happened at the party there and whether or not any disciplinary sanctions would be appropriate.

Drinking in residence halls is illegal, except for individuals age 21 or more, but the University does not control activities in the off-campus fraternities and sororities. However those organizations in 1991 decided to ban kegs at parties, making alcohol less available to minors who might be in attendance.

“The University is very concerned about student drinking, especially binge drinking,” said Julie Peterson, director of News and Information Services. “We have emphasized education about responsible drinking even more this year than in the past in light of the incidents at other campuses last year.

“We are not foolish enough to believe that if we say drinking is bad that students will stop. We want to educate them about the issues surrounding abuse of alcohol and binge drinking. But students are not always ready to hear what we have to say.

“We do hope we have their attention now,” Peterson added, “and that they are listening to the messages.”

The University recently appointed a 10-member Binge Drinking Committee that is charged with bringing forth recommendations to change students’ behavior with respect to alcohol use and abuse.

Committee members are Marsha Benz (chair), University Health Service; Peggy Bradley-Doppes, Athletic Department; Carol Boyd, Substance Abuse Research Centers; James Christie, student; Deb Kraus, Counseling and Psychological Services; Sean McCabe, Office of Student Conflict Resolution; John Mountz, Interfraternity Council adviser; David Schoem, assistant vice president for academic and student affairs; John Schulenberg, senior research associate, Institute for Social Research; and William Zeller, University Housing.

A memorial service for Cantor was held at Chabad House Oct. 16 and a vigil was held on the Diag Oct. 19. The University also provided transportation to Cantor’s funeral for those who needed it.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Courtney Lisa Cantor Scholarship Fund, c/o Temple Israel, 5725 Walnut Lake Road, West Bloomfield, MI 48323.

Students seeking help in dealing with Cantor’s death can visit CAPS on the third floor of the Michigan Union or call 764-8312. Faculty and staff with concerns or questions should contact the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, 936-6350.

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