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UA community honors Wilson Forrester at candlelight vigil

UA community honors Wilson Forrester at candlelight vigil
Heather DiPietro

About 500 UA community members came together to honor Wilson Forrester, a UA student who died last semester of an accidental drug overdose, at a candlelight vigil on Friday.

The vigil, held behind the Old Main Fountain from 6 to 8 p.m., was the final event in Greek Life’s first annual Drug Awareness Week. Forrester was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, and hundreds of his fraternity brothers attended to show their support.

Forrester’s father, Chip, was the keynote speaker. He said UA community members need to take action if they know of a student in trouble.

“To be unmentored is to fail each and every one of you,” Chip Forrester said. “This is where this university and this fraternity failed my son.”

Chip Forrester said UA students and Phi Gamma Delta fraternity members knew that his son, who he said was nicknamed “blackout Willy,” had “struggles” and did not notify his parents about them as they should have.

“Where is the help this fraternity is supposed to provide, and why were we not told of this? Where were the adults who were supposed to be the keepers of these fine young men?” Chip Forrester asked.

He also said the university did not provide enough resources to deal with drugs and alcohol abuse to the fraternity, and that he had called on both former UA President Robert Shelton and current President Eugene Sander to address this issue but has “heard nothing to date.”

“I stand here tonight in hope that something will change,” Chip Forrester added. “The system is deeply flawed.”

A moment of silence was held in honor of Wilson Forrester, and vigil attendees were given the opportunity to speak about their memories of him and the consequences of his passing.

Brett Norris, a pre-business student and a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, said people need to be educated about the cause of Wilson Forrester’s death, and that community members should learn from the “tragic event.”

“As a community, we are headed in the right direction so a tragedy like this won’t happen again,” he said.

Norris also spoke about Wilson Forrester’s character, and that he will never be forgotten.

“Wilson always found a way to take the good out of the bad,” Norris said. “Words can’t begin to explain the type of man you were.”

One of the main goals of Drug Awareness Week was to raise money for the Wilson Forrester Scholarship Fund. Greek Life sold bracelets in his honor for $4 and raised a total of $2,478 from Monday to Thursday, according to Jessica Hermann, president of the Panhellenic Council.

“This week was a huge success, and it set the basis for years to come,” she said. “It nothing else, this week was the help people.”

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