PSU makes more changes to Greek Life

Katrina Barker
June 3, 2017

This Oct. 31, 2014, photo provided by Patrick Carns shows Timothy Piazza, center, with his parents Evelyn Piazza, left, and James Piazza, right, during Hunterdon Central Regional High School football's "Senior Night" at the high school's stadium in Flemington, N.J. Prosecutors in Pennsylvania are set to announce, Friday, May 5, 2017, the results of a grand jury investigation into the death of the Penn State student, Timothy Piazza, who fell down steps February 4, during an alcohol-fueled pledge ceremony. "We believe after years of trying to adjust and improve the self-governance model for the Greek system, that we need to take control of some key aspects of it".

"We're trying to save what is at base a very good system that has made some really awful mistakes recently", said trustee Bill Oldsey, who had been president of the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity as a Penn State student. Tim Piazza died two days after being found unconscious in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on February 2.

This story will be updated. Piazza's death "was the direct result of traumatic brain injuries", according to the forensic pathologist. Prosecutors filed criminal charges last month against 18 students, ranging from alcohol violations to involuntary manslaughter. Penn State President Barron says more change is coming.

"Many of these letters are from PSU alumni, parents of PSU students (including Greek life students) and PSU and other university Greek Life members".

"Our son died on your watch because of ignorance and denial by Penn State".

Today, the Board of Trustees met and supported new measures proposed by the university, including: university staff members monitoring social events; the university taking control of the fraternity and sorority misconduct and adjudication process; more parent education; and permanent revocation of university recognition for any chapter involved in "hazing that involves alcohol, physical abuse, or any behavior that puts a student's mental or physical health at risk".

"As I am now learning, Penn State has a long history of harsh hazing, excessive drinking and sexual assaults in its Greek Life", the letter reads. "As noted, the Administration and its Trustees knew about the problems and the issues but chose to turn a blind eye". "This was a horrific tragedy and our focus is on reaching solutions to the complex issues of hazing, unsafe drinking and other misconduct that plague fraternities here and around the country", the statement read. "This must stop and all those who are part of turning a blind eye must be held accountable, just as the individuals who committed the crimes and recklessness should be held accountable".

"Greek life at Penn State is broken and must be fixed". They asked the university to expel all students culpable in the death of their son.

The most significant move is that Penn State will take over the monitoring and disciplinary processes now run by student organizations.

"Our main goal and most important focus is making sure some kind of positive change is affected to ensure that this type of thing never happens again", says Tim's brother Mike Piazza. "University leaders have taken aggressive actions to date and they will meet tomorrow to discuss additional measures to advance student safety".

He said the family wants to be constructive in this process, adding "We look to the day when we see the details and the actual plan". The school also permanently shut down the Beta Theta Pi fraternity chapter.

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