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Fresno State community mourns loss of student

September 4, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil Tuesday night to honor a Fresno State student who died after a night of drinking.

18-year-old Philip Dhanens died Sunday, just weeks after beginning his freshman year at the university. Dhanens was pledging to become a member of the Theta Chi fraternity. Even though some members only knew him a couple of days, they said he and his generous smile had made an impact. "He was the utmost guy at all times. I don't think I even heard him curse once," said Daniel Dukes, a fellow Theta Chi member.

The vigil was organized by Fresno State's Associated Students, Inc. Many who attended were fraternity and sorority members, who dressed in all black.

The Bakersfield native was only on campus a short time. His loved ones there are also grieving, including girlfriend Zoe Tucker. "I just don't think it's real and I just keep thinking I'm going to wake up and he's going to be there, but I know he's not," said Tucker.

Those loved ones were also on the minds of Fresno State students as they gathered in the student's memory. "Philip was one of our own. He was a member of our Fresno State family. And we all wanted to honor him, honor his family," said ASI President Arthur Montejano.

The vigil to remember Dhanens' life came as Fresno Police continue to investigate the circumstances of his death. Investigators say he drank an overwhelming amount of alcohol after a fraternity event Friday evening. The national chapter of Theta Chi suspended the organization as police try to figure out who provided Dhanens with alcohol and who was responsible for the group's safety.

The student's death has affected the entire student body. "That was a big concern for me, when this happens on campus. No one wants to deal with death and sadness. We want to come, get an education, maybe have a bit of fun, but nothing as serious as this," said Fresno state senior Quanisha Ashford.


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