Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Family Hopes The 'Horror' Of Son's Hazing Death Sparks Change

Penn State student Tim Piazza died after being put through a fraternity hazing ritual. His brother Michael mother Evelyn and father James hope his death sparks some change on college campuses View Slideshow
Theresa Hayes | 04 June, 2017, 04:13

The Penn State Board of Trustees on Friday passed a package of new rules created to change fraternity and sorority culture.

In a letter sent Thursday to school trustees, parents James and Evelyn Piazza advocated for some of those proposals, but also wanted the school to take further action, including expelling students and firing administrators connected with their son's death. The parents of the college sophomore from Lebanon, New Jersey, accused officials of turning a blind eye to hazing and excessive drinking in the Greek system, saying it led to the February 4 death of their son.

They also recommended stronger policies that would create more clearly defined rules against hazing, allow for random spot inspections of fraternity houses and require the expulsion of anyone found to be providing alcohol to underage students.

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"Our aim is to curb destructive outcomes in the Penn State Greek community with the hope that we can preserve what is good and valuable about the Greek experience and the sense of community these organizations provide", -- said.

Timothy Piazza, 19, of Hunterdon County, New Jersey, died in February after falling down a set of basement stairs at a fraternity.

The reforms come in response to concerns about a broken self-governance model that allowed for unsafe drinking and hazing behavior to occur within some Greek organizations that contributed to the February death of sophomore engineering student Timothy Piazza while pledging Beta Theta Pi.

A grand jury report said security camera footage captured events inside the house that night, including pledges being ordered to guzzle alcohol.

But Barron said other measures would likely be added to the school's list, and that Penn State would propose holding a national conference about reforming their Greek-letter communities during its meeting with other Big 10 schools this weekend.

Piazza's hazing-related death was the catalyst for the meeting and unprecedented actions taken to bolster safety for students involved in greek life.

The university also agreed to continue its decision to delay recruitment for fraternities and sororities until second semester freshman year but not into sophomore year, which some members of the board with Greek ties had opposed. Someone called 911 about 40 minutes later.

"Presidents across this nation, big universities, small universities, private universities and public universities are all facing these problems and finding it a challenge to deal with them", Barron said.

"Hazing that involves alcohol, physical abuse, or any behavior that puts a student's mental or physical health at risk will result in swift permanent revocation of university recognition for the chapter involved", said University President Eric Barron.

"The problem is the system itself", Lohse said.

"There have been no concrete real changes made today.

Penn State University failed our son and failed us", the Piazzas said.