Penn State suspends another fraternity

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The Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on the Penn State campus has been permanently banned.

Pennsylvania State University has suspended another fraternity that has run afoul of the rules.

Sigma Alpha Mu, which Penn State president Eric Barron previously said had violated just about every rule regarding alcohol use during Parents Weekend, will lose its recognition for no less than two years, the university announced Thursday.

Violations by the fraternity during the April 1 event included excessive drinking, the use of hard liquor that was not permitted, lack of a third-party alcohol server, and allowing open access to alcohol with no monitoring, the university said. The fraternity also allowed guests other than members and their families to attend, which was not permitted.

“Sigma Alpha Mu knowingly violated every rule that was imposed,” Damon Sims, Penn State vice president for student affairs, said in a statement. “This behavior is not consistent with our university values and is in direct opposition to the changes required if we are to have a healthy, successful and sustainable Greek-letter system at Penn State.”

The action comes as a grand jury investigation into the death of Beta Theta Pi pledge Tim Piazza continues. The university has permanently banned Beta Theta Pi for forced drinking, hazing, and other illegal activity, and has instituted new rules for the entire Greek system, including limiting the number of parties and their duration and size, and delaying recruitment to second-semester freshman year.

Penn State is home to 83 fraternities and sororities with about 18 percent of the student body participating. With the revocation of Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Alpha Mu, that number drops to 81.

Penn State had declared a moratorium on serving alcohol at Greek social events after Piazza’s death but made an exception for Parents Weekend under certain guidelines, including limits on size and length of the gatherings. Barron later said that the Parents Weekend exception was a mistake and that even some parents were visibly intoxicated.

“In a gesture of trust, we believed that Parents Weekend would be the appropriate way to pilot new regulations and gain cooperation from the Greek-letter community,” Sims said. “Unfortunately, this fraternity egregiously took advantage of its trial opportunity, despite our clear expectations and the well-publicized consequences for violations.”