Greek life at Penn State could end, university president warns

  NJ.com 
Greek life at Penn State could come to an end if fraternities and sororities cannot abide by new rules aimed at ending hazing and curtailing drinking, Penn State President Eric Bannon has said. STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Greek life at Penn State could come to an end if fraternities and sororities cannot abide by new rules aimed at ending hazing and curtailing drinking, Penn State President Eric Bannon has said. That was the message in an open letter Bannon recently wrote on his blog, Digging Deeper . The letter came after the announcement of new rules aimed at addressing excessive drinking following the death of a 19-year-old sophomore from New Jersey, who had just started pledging at the Alpha Upsilon chapter house of Beta Theta Pi. The results of an investigation by Centre County District Attorney's office and State College Police into the death of Timothy Piazza of Readington Township in Hunterdon County is expected to be released soon. Piazza died after a fall at a party where he had been drinking heavily as part of a hazing,it was previously reported . He was placed on a couch after the fall, but no one called for an ambulance until nearly 12 hours later . Piazza had suffered a collapsed lung, ruptured spleen and nonrecoverable brain injury. Police probe hazing, excessive drinking in Penn State frat death After detailing recent violations involving fraternities and sororities, Bannon wrote if these violations continue, "I predict that we will see many empty houses and then the end of Greek life at Penn State." Bannon also expressed concern that there "are the signs that bad behavior will not end with our rules, it will just go underground." He cited an email from an unnamed leader in the Interfraternity Council sent to chapters that used "a derogatory term to describe women, while encouraging members to have the alcohol upstairs and not have it on the main floor where it risks having checkers discover a violation. "If new rules can just be ignored, or behavior just goes underground, and if there is no willingness to recognize the adverse impact of excessive drinking, hazing, and sexual assault, then is there any hope?" The letter came after the recent Parent's Weekend, held April 1. Bannon wrote that nine of the university's 82 fraternities and sororities violated at least one of the new rules, with one - Sigma Alpha Mu - violating almost every rule. There was open access to alcohol at Sigma Alpha Mu, including to those under 21, and some parents were visibly intoxicated, Bannon wrote. The university announced on Thursday it had suspended the Sigma Alpha Mu for at least two years, according toPennLive.com . Bannon said the university has tried for a decade to address excessive drinking and hazing. A Task Force created following an investigation into Kappa Delta Rho, Bannon wrote, resulted in the creation of a report card on fraternities and sororities, but "did not reach consensus on the more challenging issues surrounding the control of excessive drinking and large parties at fraternity houses ... surely the closure of a chapter and vacating of a house would be a deterrent for all others, and a report card would provide warning signs on when an intervention was needed. "The tragic and heart-wrenching death of a student at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity completely changed this view." Beta Theta Pi, which had been suspended in 2009 for alcohol violations involving serving alcohol to minors, reopened with a no alcohol policy and a live-in person to provide oversight. The fraternity's house was extensively renovated and had a video surveillance system. "There were no outward signs of large parties, which are frequently the bane of community members," Bannon wrote. "All indicators suggested a 'model' fraternity. Yet, a death occurred because a student was forced to consume dangerous amounts of alcohol in a hazing ritual. The story is even worse. The story is incomprehensible. Its 'model' behavior was a charade." Following Piazza's death the fraternity lost its charter. The same day its house manager,Braxton Becker , was charged with 10 felony and five misdemeanor counts for selling marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The drug charges stem from an investigation that was underway before Piazza's death. As Centre County prosecutors conclude their investigation into Piazza's death, Beta Theta Pi fraternity members and their attorneys have spoken to philly.com , saying they thought he was only drunk and in no danger. It was only the next morning when he wouldn't wake him up that they realized his condition was worse and called for help, according to the report. "It is not unexpected that people who are in trouble give self-serving accounts and statements," Philadelphia-based attorney Tom Kline, hired by the Piazza family, told philly.com. "We are confident that the real facts will prevail and that the hazing incident which cost Tim Piazza his life will not go unpunished." ▶ Full story on nj.com
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