Penn State Hazing: Univ. President Addresses Zero-Tolerance Policy

Since 1970, there has been at least one hazing-related college death each year.

Penn State Hazing: Univ. President Addresses Zero-Tolerance Policy

Eighteen Beta Theta Pi fraternity members have been charged in the February 4 death of a freshman pledge.

Penn State President Eric Barron posted an article Wednesday outlining the changes the college plans to make to enforce a zero-tolerance hazing policy throughout campus.

The promised changes come a few months after student Timothy Piazza’s hazing death.

As previously reported on Campus Safety, 19-year-old sophomore Timothy Piazza died in February after participating in Beta Theta Pi fraternity’s bid acceptance night.

Pledges took part in “the gauntlet”, a hazing ritual which forces the potential candidates to drink at a fast pace in a series of drinking games, according to People.

Video footage shows Piazza sustaining injuries from multiple falls, including one head-first fall down a flight of stairs.

His causes of death were traumatic brain injuries sustained from the falls and spleen damage sustained from consuming a deadly amount of alcohol.

Eighteen members of a Penn State University fraternity are facing criminal charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.

Penn State had previously put significant restrictions on Greek life parties earlier in the year, including banning kegs and hard liquor at parties and conducting unannounced compliance checks. The school also requires all first-year students to complete an online alcohol and sexual assault class.

Changes in Hazing Policies

Traditionally, fraternities and sororities are responsible for their own misconduct reprehensions as they are private organizations. Most university jurisdictions only include the ability to remove recognition as student organizations and to investigate the processes being used to internally discipline student conduct.

The university will take complete control of misconduct handlings within the Greek life on campus. Any hazing, whether it is alcohol related or involves physical or mental abuse, will result in immediate removal of university recognition.

“Many students come to campus for the first time, experiencing life on their own, making choices regarding education, relationships, alcohol and self-discipline. They have a need for community, and some turn to traditional collegiate social organizations,” said Barron. “But, tragically, Greek life has changed – fostering a drinking culture that can put students at risk, academically and physically.”

A newly establish Greek-life Response Team will be permitted to report any wrongdoings to the student misconduct office and will work closely with both law enforcement and neighborhood groups in the surrounding areas.

All chapters will be required to sign a contract agreeing to these stipulations.

The Statistics of Hazing

According to, some shocking hazing statistics include:

  • 82% of hazing deaths at colleges involve alcohol
  • 55% of students who join clubs, teams or Greek life experience hazing
  • Of the 55% who experienced hazing within these groups, 22% report that a coach or an advisor was involved
  • Almost 50% of all hazing incidents are posted online
  • 47% of students have already been hazed before college
  • 25% of hazing occurs on-campus in a public space

Barron emphasizes that the changes Penn State is making aren’t enough. “Many other issues require attention. From tougher laws — like strengthening penalties for hazing, to looking more closely at amnesty and examining risk management policies of the nationals.”

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About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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