Penn State Announces "Aggressive" Changes To Greek Life System After Student Death

Mar 30, 2017

In February, 19-year-old Timothy Piazza died after falling down the stairs at Beta Theta Pi fraternity house during a hazing incident. On Thursday, the university announced it was permanently revoking Beta Theta Pi's charter and banning the fraternity.

In a statement, vice president for student affairs Damon Sims said the investigation had found "deeply disturbing evidence" of "forced drinking, mandatory hazing and other illegal activity, which combined with a student's tragic death to lead us to conclude that Beta Theta Pi, despite its notable history at Penn State, merits no continuing place in our community." 

The university also announced changes to the rest of the Greek Life system.

Formal recruitment of new members has been pushed to the Spring semester for the upcoming school year and may exclude freshmen in the future. Parties involving alcohol are capped at 10 per semester, down from 45. Event monitoring will increase and if underage drinking persists, the whole system could become dry. Greek organizations are also prohibited from having their signature "daylongs," parties that last all day long.

Mike Leahey, a Pittsburgh lawyer for the Beta Theta Pi chapter, told the AP that the fraternity will fight the decision.  

In a statement, Dean Vetere, the president of the Interfraternity Council said, "We are ready to address critical issues in our community head on, but we don't accept that restricting students' basic right to choose when they join an organization is an effective way to build partnership to achieve significant change. We are deeply disappointed the university administration did not follow through on its promise to engage students before making critical decisions." 

There is a student protest of these changes scheduled for Thursday at 5pm in front of the Old Main building. 

Piazza died Feb. 4 at Hershey Medical Center from traumatic brain injury after falling down the stairs during a new member ceremony at the Beta Theta Pi house. Fraternity members didn't call for help for nearly 12 hours after the fall.