Ramping up efforts to keep our students safe

By all accounts, Samuel Martinez was a 19‑year‑old you would love to hang out with.

Sam was funny, bright, and caring. Polite. Serious. Responsible. Fiercely loyal to his family and friends. He loved sports, and he volunteered often for community service projects.

Knowing Sam’s virtues makes coming to terms with his tragic death November 12 at his fraternity house in Pullman all the more heartbreaking. Losing a family member hurts. When that family member is young and brimming with potential, the pain is gut-wrenching.

As our community grieves Sam, I extend my deepest condolences on behalf of the entire Cougar nation to the Martinez family, Sam’s friends, and all who knew him. As we mourn together, I encourage you to take the time and seek the help you may need during this challenging period. Our counseling and Student Affairs staff will continue to assist the community as needed.

Sam’s death also reminds us that we must continue to refine and ramp up the University’s efforts to keep our students safe and healthy. While ensuring the safety of the entire WSU community remains one of our highest institutional priorities, we can—and must—do more. For example, while incoming WSU students already are required to complete mandatory alcohol and safety training, we will revisit this policy and others in an effort to strengthen them.

I also want to remind you of our Good Samaritan guideline, which was created to protect the health and lives of students who over-consume alcohol or drugs. Under the guideline, you can contact police or other authorities in these situations without fear of disciplinary action for drug or alcohol use.

Effective immediately, we also have placed an interim loss-of-recognition-status on the Alpha Tau Omega-Gamma Chi chapter, the fraternity of which Sam was a member. Student Affairs staff have opened an investigation and are working with the fraternity’s national headquarters. Any disciplinary action will be determined by WSU’s community standards process.

Please join me in reflecting on Sam’s life with gratitude for the love and the vitality he brought to his family, friends, and our community. May we keep those memories alive in the days to come as we endeavor to ensure his death was not in vain.


Kirk Schulz, President
Washington State University