The All-Campus Party was John Jung’s brainchild. With the help of the Wisconsin Alumni Association, Jung spearheaded the weeklong, sober event eight years ago for all University of Wisconsin students to celebrate the spring’s colorful Union Terrace chairs, Bascom grass and warm weather.
Yet on Aug. 27, 2006, John crawled out of a Philadelphia hotel elevator, convulsing from a rare reaction to cocaine. According to his father, Jung died that night of anaphylactic shock, an allergic response that kills .002 percent of people who suffer anaphylactic reactions. To many, John’s death was a grim contrast to the festive, substance-free nature of the All-Campus Party he created years earlier.
“To some, [the All-Campus Party] is just another week of fun things to do,” said Robert Jung, John’s father. “But for those who listen, it really emphasizes the fact that you can’t be so sure it won’t happen to you.”
According to Jung’s friend Melissa Wollering, now public relations representative for the John Jung Memorial Foundation, no one knew about the severity of John’s addiction before his death. Though close friends reached out to John, his involvement in UW student life and vibrant character assured them he was in control, she said. When he joined the Wisconsin Alumni Association Student Board as a sophomore, one of his first projects was planning the All-Campus Party.
“People told him it was impossible,” Wollering said. “They asked, ‘You want to do what? Plan an event that goes on for a week, and invite the entire campus, faculty and staff?’ Of course, he replied, ‘Actually, I will.’ That’s the kind of person he was.”
Both Wollering and Jung said John inspired people. When John met Wollering in a UW golf class, he suggested she join WAA, an organization she still works with. According to Wollering, he also encouraged his friends to become student ambassadors. With his love for people, Pearl Jam and his guitar, John could cheer up any friend or acquaintance, she said.
“My best memories of John are always when I saw him caring about people,” Robert Jung said. “He knew he wanted to be a doctor, and that way he’d be helping people for the rest of his life.”
John’s love for UW was his motivation for planning the All-Campus Party. According to Wollering, he gathered support from WASB, friends from the rugby team and corporate sponsorship. Eight years later, the event continues on a larger scale and reaches more people than ever, she said.
According to UW senior Becky Chudy, public relations director for this year’s All-Campus Party, ACP is the largest alcohol-alternative event in the country free to students. While this is the Jung Memorial’s first year in the party planning, Chuddy said both organizations hope the event shows students they don’t have to rely on alcohol to have a good time.
“For a lot of people, this may be the week they do the least amount of drinking in a long time,” Jung said.
“I think having an event of this magnitude that attracts this many students shows the strength of the student body that knows how to have fun responsibly,” Wollering added.
Jung acknowledges the social aspect of drinking and said most alcohol- and drug-related problems stem from emotional pain. In John’s case, his family started having issues around the time he began drinking as a UW sophomore. Jung said it is a matter of how problems are dealt with, as many young adults fill the void with drugs and alcohol.
“It isn’t so much about how you get someone to stop drinking or getting high, the question is ‘why are they doing it?'” Robert Jung said.
According to his father, John’s anguish also led him to cocaine use, an addiction that developed during his medical school studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Think about that, doctors that are doing coke,” Jung said. “They know it’s not good for them, and they still do it, and that’s some of the feeling of being invincible and feeling that you know better.”
Wollering said she thinks there are many individuals with similar problems and helping them is necessary. To address the issue, a few of John’s friends founded the John W. Jung Scholarship Foundation, which awards a year’s tuition to an incoming UW freshman based on academic leadership and community service.
“I think it’s ironic that [John] had intentions to make this event something that fostered the idea of finding ways to celebrate without substances, and that’s what he succumbed to,” Wollering said. “Many students consider themselves social drinkers, but the severity of addiction is overwhelming to the point where even the best person can fall victim to it — it takes more courage to face the pain than to get high or drunk.”
According to Wollering, a video tribute to John will play at this year’s All Campus Idol and memorial pamphlets were handed out at spring football scrimmage, both All-Campus Party events scheduled for this week. These reminders help people understand why the All-Campus Party was developed, and who the man behind it was, she said.
Correction: Due to an editing error in this story the quote “It takes more courage to face the pain than to get high or drunk” should have been attributed to Robert Jung.