Sunshine’s parents seek change in NU’s code of conduct, compensation

Sara Peck

Changes to Northwestern’s code of conduct announced last week could impact a possible law suit from the parents of Matthew Sunshine, whose son died of alcohol poisoning in June 2008.

The family may seek monetary and non-monetary compensation from NU for its alleged role in Matthew’s death, said Jeffrey Sunshine, Matthew’s father. Since their son’s death, Matthew’s parents have campaigned for changes to the alcohol policies at Northwestern and other universities.

Sunshine confirmed Friday that if the family is unsatisfied with NU’s policy changes, a suit will be filed against the university, as the family originally announced in July.

Sunshine said he was mostly happy with the changes he had seen so far, calling the code of conduct “well-written and well-considered.” The changes will not include creating a Red Watch Band program like the program created in memory of Matthew at Stony Brook University, where his mother is a professor. Sunshine said NU officials chose to use a Gordie Foundation program because Red Watch Band includes CPR certification for students, which they said would cause students to use CPR instead of calling for medical assistance.

NU also denied Sunshine’s request for a medical help line, which would field student calls while health services is closed.

The Sunshine family and NU are still negotiating other changes and a monetary settlement, and will continue until an agreement is reached, Sunshine said.

Related:NU could face suit in Sunshine death (7/9/09)Matthew Sunshine’s death inspires new alcohol safety program at Stony Brook (5/22/09)