Since sophomore pledge Tim Piazza died at Pennsylvania State University in February 2017 following a booze-fueled fraternity party, the university has investigated and acted on 14 other reports of hazing, including one where pledges were told to drink a jug of wine in 30 minutes.
The report also shows that 13 members of Beta Theta Pi — the fraternity that Piazza was pledging — were disciplined to varying degrees by the university following Piazza’s death, and that 21 others withdrew with the caveat that they would face the disciplinary process if they returned. Of the 13 disciplined, five were expelled indefinitely, six were suspended, and two were placed on probation.
“Student safety remains a top priority at Penn State, and the university follows a no-tolerance policy on hazing,” the school said in a statement following the release of the report.
The university permanently banned Beta Theta Pi and instituted new rules for its Greek system in the aftermath of Piazza’s death. More than two dozen fraternity members have faced varying criminal charges in the case, and some have pleaded guilty. Piazza was a sophomore engineering major from New Jersey. His parents, Jim and Evelyn Piazza, have joined other parents nationally in pushing for anti-hazing awareness and tougher laws.
The new Penn State report shows 31 incidents that were reported over the last five years, about half of them before the Beta Theta Pi pledge night party where Piazza consumed large quantities of alcohol — some of it in a drinking gauntlet that was captured on video — fell down stairs and later died.
Of the hazing cases that occurred since Piazza’s death, four involved forced drinking. The case with the jug of wine occurred at Zeta Psi last April, and the university suspended the group for three years.
At Gamma Phi Beta on the Altoona campus of Penn State, new sorority members were forced “to engage in underage drinking, servitude and were required to lick the toes of members,.” the report said. The incident occurred on Feb. 2 of last year — exactly one year after the party where Piazza was fatally injured. The university suspended the organization for two semesters.
In other hazing incidents described in the report, new members were directed to repeat derogatory chants, do push-ups, carry out scavenger hunts, clean the fraternity house, and carry a pledge pack that included a condom, playing cards, quarters, cigarettes, and other items.