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Hazing News

Too sad for words

Chicago Tribune
February 15, 2008

The NIU shooting
Elmhurst student identified as NIU shooting victim

By Megan Twohey, Karoun Demirjian and Monique Garcia, Tribune reporters
Tribune reporters Stacy St. Clair and James Janega contributed to this report

Dan Parmenter’s fraternity brothers at Pi Kappa Alpha could rely upon him
to organize charity events. His boss could count on him to work every day.

And his professors could depend on the big rugby player to come to class on
a cold February afternoon.

It was that type of dedication that placed Parmenter in the front row of an
introduction to oceanography class Thursday at Northern Illinois
University. As the instructor wrapped up a lecture on types of sea salt, a
gunman walked onto the stage and opened fire, officials said.

At least five students were killed, including Parmenter, 20, of Elmhurst, a
finance major and member of the NIU rugby team. The gunman, a former NIU
graduate student, took his own life, police said.

Authorities had not released the names of the slain late Thursday, saying
only that four were women. Parmenter’s family and friends confirmed he had
died.

“He was always helping other people out, giving you a ride to class,
helping with homework, doing community service,” said Jason Garcia,
president of Pi Kappa Alpha’s NIU chapter.

Parmenter began working as a sales associate for the NIU student newspaper
in August. Working on the Northern Star’s business staff was a tradition at
the Pi Kappa Alpha house and a fraternity brother had recommended him for
the job.

He initially handled grunt work such as answering phones and manning the
fax machine. His work ethic quickly earned him a promotion to office
manager and later to advertising representative, said Maria Krull, the
paper’s business adviser.

“He was one of our most wonderful kids,” she said. “He took care of
everybody. He was prompt, smart and very attentive. I could depend on him
for everything.”

Parmenter, who had graduated from York High School, wanted the hands-on
business experience, Krull said. He had hoped to be an intern at the
Chicago Board of Trade this summer.

His Pi Kappa Alpha brothers remembered Parmenter as an imposing figure, at
6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, who was shy and quiet when he first joined the
fraternity.

He had become more outgoing recently, getting members to help with bingo
games at a nursing home, Garcia said.

As word of the shooting spread Thursday afternoon, members of Pi Kappa
Alpha gathered back at the house on Hillcrest Road and did a head count,
text messaging people who weren’t there.

They accounted for everybody except Parmenter. Some members were checking
at Kishwaukee Hospital when Parmenter’s cousin sent them the news.

Fraternity officers then made an announcement and brought in counselors.

“I went into shock at first for about five minutes and then I broke down,”
Garcia said. “I’ll probably be punching a lot of things tonight.”

Parmenter’s family said they weren’t focusing on the dramatic nature of his
death.

“I’m not angry,” said his stepfather, Robert Greer. “I’m just sad, and I
know that right now what I need to do is comfort my wife.”

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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