On Saturday, Feb. 16 at 8:38 a.m., first responders were alerted to a medical emergency involving one student at the Zeta Tau Alpha house, located at 4 Fraternity Circle on the University of Rhode Island’s campus.
The student, who was identified as Lambda Beta chapter President Dominique Franco through ZTA social media accounts, was quickly transported to South County Hospital and pronounced dead later that day. Franco was a junior nursing student at the University.
On Friday, students and fellow ZTA members plan to wear purple in honor of Franco to show remembrance and support. This was organized by Tyler Fritz, a fellow nursing student. Friday, Feb. 22 will be the first day that Franco will not be in class alongside Fritz. According to Fritz’s facebook post, purple is Franco’s favorite color.
“Dominique Franco was a peer of ours and a friend to many,” Fritz said on Facebook. “This Friday, I ask if you can fish something purple out of the bottom of your drawers or ask a friend to borrow a shirt if you don’t have one and please please please wear it to class to honor our former classmate Dominique Franco.”
The men’s basketball team will also be honoring Franco during their games on Friday, Feb. 22 and Tuesday, Feb. 26 by wearing purple socks. A memorial service is currently being planned by the Zeta Tau Alpha chapter.
The University’s office of Greek Life released a statement following Franco’s death that said, “Dom was a thoughtful and selfless leader loved by both her chapter and the Greek life community at large. She would put the chapter’s and members’ success above anything else. She was an important part of the Greek Life leadership team and will be missed dearly.”
Laura Creese, Panhellenic President, echoed statements of sentiment as well.
“As Panhellenic President, I had the honor of guiding Dom through her chapter endeavors,” Creese said. “Her leadership on this campus and how she inspired her sisters in ZTA is nothing short of remarkable. I will miss her presence and her laugh dearly.”
The death has impacted many ZTA sisters as well. Similar to statements made by other students, Lindsay Travers was deeply touched by Franco and her kind ways.
“When anyone needed help, she was there in an instant lending her hand,” she said. “When anyone was going through a hard time, she opened up her arms and listened and gave her love and support. Whenever our chapter needed a boost she did everything in her power to get our spirits up. She was so incredibly involved at URI and loved Zeta Tau Alpha and Greek Life with her whole heart. We not only lost our president, but we lost our role model, our friend, our sister and a truly spectacular human being.”
Rhode Island State Police, URI police and the Attorney General’s office are looking into Franco’s cause of death. At this time, state police do not believe that the death was a result of foul play. David Lavallee, assistant director of Communications and Marketing for the University, told WPRI that Franco’s death is not considered suspicious.
The University released a statement Saturday afternoon that said, “The University is deeply saddened by the death of one of its community members and offers heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the individual. We understand that such news is deeply disturbing to our community and that we need to be supportive of each other through this difficult time. The University is in the process of providing support to family members and friends of the individual through its Division of Student Affairs, Counseling Center, Dean of Students Office, Greek Life and Health Services. Staff members from the Counseling Center will be available throughout the weekend.”
The University sent out an email with a full list of resources available to students that included their location, hours and two methods of contact.