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It’s going to take more than a speech at a conference to change how frats are operated and prevent deaths like Tim Piazza’s from happening in the future. But what will it take?
In part one of Fraternity Dangers, we dig deeper into what happened to Tim Piazza and the new grading system Penn State introduced afterwards to hold Greek organizations accountable.
It’s February 2018 and the Beta Theta Pi house sits quiet on Penn State's beautiful campus. These former fraternity members are trying to move forward from some dark days a year ago…
The Beta's were considered the cream of the crop, self nicknamed "men of principle". They proclaimed Beta Theta Pi to be a dry fraternity and committed to a 100% hazing free pledge program.
But on February 2nd, 2017 the truth began to come out. It all started with a pledge by the name of Timothy Piazza going through “The Gauntlet.”
“The Gauntlet” was a hazing ritual filled with binge drinking.
Piazza would slam a drink, then race to the next station. The 19 year old was given 18 drinks of beer, wine and hard alcohol in 82 minutes.
Video footage from inside shows every drink.
Police believe piazza, with a blood alcohol level of .4-0, fell multiple times down a flight of stairs, suffering what would be a deadly head injury, ruptured spleen and collapsed lung.
Medical attention wasn’t immediate. 12 hours elapsed after his fall before his brothers called an ambulance.
Piazza died February 4th.
Months later, after national news coverage and a grand jury investigation.
26 fraternity members face charges including hazing and involuntary manslaughter. And this became one of the largest hazing prosecutions in U.S. history.
But it hasn't provided closure for the Piazza family.
They are threatening a lawsuit against Penn State, accusing the university of ignoring and condoning dangerous hazing.
Jim Piazza said,"This didn't have to happen, this is the result of the feeling of entitlement, flagrant disobedience of the law, disregard for moral values."
Penn State was compelled to make big changes to Greek life.
They tightened rules on recruitment, banned hard liquor and kegs, and installed a new Greek grading system that tracks GPA,community service, and various crimes.
But many fraternities were not ready to be graded.
Since the grade report was first issued the university has suspended 14 Greek organizations for hazing, alcohol, drug violations and other failings.
The president of the university Eric Barron issued this statement.
"While these consequences demonstrate that we mean business, the large number of suspended chapters also shows that many students have ignored the call for behavior change and fallen short of our values and expectations."
Penn State trustee Ted Brown belonged to Theta Delta Chi here on campus 50 years ago. He agrees with the new oversight. He says "I actually believe it will help my fraternity get more brothers because parents will say let me look at all the report cards of all the frats and i'm not sure my son or daughter to go to a Greek organization that has bad grades."
Some fraternity students also agree with the new system. John Gross, is a junior and former fraternity president. His fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau was at the top of the grade report. "Gets to showcase good things organizations do, and if there are violations they are on there as well, so transparency, is a good thing."
He says his fraternity doesn’t ask new members to pledge, or go through a semester of rituals and hazing.
Gross says, "recruitment is normal, you come to events, meet brothers. If you get a bid and accept your bid you are initiated within 48 hours and you are a full-on brother."
State College police have tracked alcohol related crimes before and after this new Greek grading system. We'll have that and tell you how to track the crimes at a fraternity house, or apartment complex.
Wednesday night at 11 in part 2 of “Fraternity Dangers”
#PUSH is Parents United to Stop Hazing