A grand jury report concluded Friday that Penn State University did not provide proper oversight for on-campus fraternity activities for years. The grand jury asserts that negligence on the part of the University directly resulted in life-threatening situations and violation of school policies pertaining to underage consumption of alcohol and hazing activities.
The report is the culmination of an investigation that began shortly after the death of Tim Piazza, a Sophomore pledge of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Piazza, death reportedly was caused by participating in a night of drinking and hazing arranged by the fraternity. The fraternity has now been disbanded at Penn State University.
The grand jury further admonished the university in the 236-page report stating that the death of Piazza was not an isolated incident and that hazing at the school was a ‘widespread and pervasive.’ The grand jury pointed out that resistance by members of the Greek organizations at the university is indicative of the fraternity system’s influence on the school.
The report was critical of the fact that the university allowed Interfraternity to Council to lead the charge in investigating improprieties on the part of school fraternities. This practice did change in response to Piazza’s death.
The grand jury report calls for tougher legislature to more harshly penalize hazing. The report also asks for more serious consequences for people that provide alcohol to minors. Finally, the grand jury states that the university itself should also take the initiative to increase penalties for alcohol and hazing violations and also make it mandatory against threat of disciplinary action that hazing must be reported when witnessed by both school staff and students.
The report is the follow up to the first phase of the Piazza death investigation. Eighteen members of the fraternity were charged in Piazza’s death and prosecutor’s assert that the Piazza was made to drink lethal amounts of alcohol while being forced to participate in what is being called a ‘drinking gauntlet.’
Tim Piazza would later fall down a flight of stairs at the fraternity house. The engineering major would lie there for twelve hours. No one called for help. His injuries would later lead to his death.
Fraternity and Sorority participation at Penn State University is widespread. Approximately 7000 students at the university are members of a Greek organization. As of present, more than a dozen of these organizations are on suspension at the University. Many of them have been suspended since the death of Mike Piazza.