Greek community supports brothers displaced by fire
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 14:10
The Greek community has come together to support the members of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) who occupied a house that caught fire last weekend.
When the residents of the house on Willington Hill, known as the Bungalow, Nick Wytas, Stephan Chassagnoux, Mark Stefanczyk and Zach Carriker, got a call from their neighbors about the fire they dropped everything and drove straight to the house.
When they arrived, they were not expecting to see as much damage as they did.
“There were at least 25 emergency vehicles there,” said Chassagnoux, a 7th-semester international business management major. “Everything I own is covered in soot.”
Every station of the Mansfield Fire Department was present, as well as aid from the UConn, Willimantic and Willington fire departments.
The residents lost clothing, computers, books, other school supplies and personal items.
“After a terrible weekend there’s been so much love,” said Chassagnoux. “It gives you a whole other perspective.”
The UConn community, especially Greek Life, has come to the immediate aid and support of the residents that lost their house.
The men received help from the Students First Fund at UConn, a division of Student Affairs supported by private donations that gives aid to students who experience an unanticipated hardship. The office of off-campus student services has also been a great help to the students.
The response from the Greek community has also been helpful. Fraternities and sororities across campus have pitched in to give the men whatever supplies they need.
“I am absolutely blown away by how loving and supportive people are after a traumatic event,” said Wytas, a 5th-semester psychology major.
They have received bags of school supplies from OFSL (Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life), clothing from the mothers of sorority sisters, personal checks and gift cards from fraternities and sororities, money from their national headquarters, toiletries and other supplies from their homecoming partners, Alpha Epsilon Phi. Both the IFC (Interfraternity Council) and TKE alumni have set up fundraisers for them. Friends and family also gave donations and support.
The men said that this experience changed their lives and they are thankful for all the positive things that have come out of this negative experience.
“We’ll be in competition for homecoming and games and sports and things,” said Chassagnoux, “but when it comes down to real life, these organizations, and what Greek life is really about, they just came together instantly, no matter who they were and made some form of donation or support. Any past bad feelings, everyone leaves all that aside and tries to help anyone out.”
They said that professors have also been very accommodating and understanding with exams and classes.
Stefanczyk, a 9th-semester political science major, and Chassagnoux are currently staying at Northwood Apartments. Carriker, a 7th-semester physiology and neurobiology and anthropology double major, and Wytas are staying in Shippee Hall.
They are not sure what will happen to the Bungalow, which has been occupied by members of TKE for three years, but they will not be able to move back.
“It’s just good to know you’re in good hands with a community that will help in any way they can,” said Chassagnoux.
The residents would like to personally thank the 911 callers: Leah Murphy, Doug Hendrix, Andrew Stipicevic, and Wiley Skewes.
No one, including responders and residents, was injured during the fire.
The Mansfield fire department said that the fire started in the rear corner of the basement at floor level.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation but Mansfield Deputy Chief and Fire Marshall Fran Raiola said that it was accidental in nature.