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Grand Jury Says Hazing "Rampant And Pervasive" At Penn State

Grand Jury Says Hazing

Pennsylvania State University failed to properly monitor and discipline its fraternities for years, leading to life-threatening conditions and widespread violations of policies involving alcohol, according to a grand jury report released Friday.

The report - released by Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller on Friday - condemned hazing within the Greek community at Penn State as "rampant and pervasive", and accused Penn State of demonstrating apathy to drinking culture and turning a blind eye to problems within fraternities.

"We are shaken and appalled by the findings of Penn State's long time knowledge of unsafe hazing, the excessive drinking culture, sexual assaults and other abusive behavior, and the University's preference to ignore and/or condone such behavior, to better promote itself as a "fun place to go to school" rather than a great place to get an education", the Piazzas said in a statement.

Eighteen of Beta Theta Pi's members faced more than 850 charges in Piazza's death, but a judge dismissed the most serious charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, during a preliminary hearing this year.

He died in February, the result of injuries sustained from falls during an alcohol-fueled bid acceptance event at Beta Theta Pi fraternity. More than a dozen fraternities are on suspension at Penn State, several of them since Piazza's death.

Other changes include prohibiting first semester freshmen from joining Greek life groups and posting a report card on fraternities and sororities, including infractions that occurred.

One email sent by a Beta member to a school official acknowledged that the fraternity needs to "change the direction of fraternity life to more about brotherhood and less about night club", the report added. The university, too, should increase its penalties for violations, the report said.

They said numerous changes promised by the university have not yet been made and said over the past 10 years Penn State Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims was in a position to make changes and did not. The university permanently revoked recognition of Beta Theta Pi.

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Twenty-six people face charges in the Penn State student's death.

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Parks Miller last spring charged 18 fraternity members in connection with Piazza's death.

The grand jury recommended that Penn State establish a pledge's bill of rights, create a hazing hotline and enforce a "mandatory and unequivocal" punishment of expulsion for any student found to have participated in hazing.

Piazza, an engineering major from Lebanon, N.J., later fell down the stairs at the fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, and was left to languish for almost 12 hours before anyone called for help.

"A Centre County jury should be given the opportunity to make a statement to the country that this behavior is not only unacceptable, it is criminal, and that the individuals involved should suffer the penalties", the Piazzas said.

Specifically, Barron said, he wants the team to "carefully review the (report's) recommendations to see how they may further inform our aggressive efforts already taken" against excessive drinking, hazing and other problems tied to fraternities and sororities at PSU.

Prosecutors also revealing the panel's recommendations.


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