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Grand Jury: Penn State IFC Fostered ‘Permissive Atmosphere’ in Piazza Death

by on May 05, 2017 1:23 PM

The end of the grand jury presentment announced Friday by the Centre County District Attorney’s office includes a note on the fraternity culture at Penn State as well as a charge that Timothy Piazza’s death was not an isolated incident but instead the product of a “permissive atmosphere” of Beta Theta Pi and Penn State Greek Life. Additionally, the grand jury determined it will compile a full report on the conduct of Penn State’s Interfraternity Council and potentially also the university regarding the behaviors it believes created such an environment.

“The Grand Jury concludes that the death of Timothy Piazza was not a result of isolated conduct or a simple mistake (i.e. negligence). Rather, the Grand Jury concludes that Timothy Piazza died as a direct result of the extremely reckless conduct of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity who operated within the permissive atmosphere fostered by the Pennsylvania State University Interfraternity Council,” the presentment reads.

The grand jury charged Penn State Greek life with creating an environment that encouraged its members to act with disregard for human life, regardless of affiliation.

“The Grand Jury find that the sum and substance of their collective testimony reveals the Penn State Greek community nurtured an environment so permissive of excessive drinking and hazing that it emboldened its members to repeatedly act with reckless disregard to human life,” the presentment reads.

The presentment also announces the development of a full report and investigation into Penn State’s Interfraternity Council and its conduct, not only in this instance but in general following a similar and dangerous trend. The grand jury is additionally considering investigating the university itself in the same vein.

During a press conference Friday afternoon, President Eric Barron addressed this potential report, welcoming any and all insight from individuals passionate about ensuring “something like this never happens again.”

“There’s not a recommendation that any president in the country doesn’t want to listen to,” Barron said. “We’ve been using every tool in our toolbox.”

The grand jury offered no timeframe for this report or investigation but it’s clear the community has a significant investment in this instance, the Greek life community, and the national trend of excessive drinking and hazing.

“We hereby direct our counsel, Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller and her office, to draft a report for the Grand Jury’s consideration outlining the evidence upon which the Grand Jury has reached the conclusion that the university, and/or a sub-unit of the university, fostered a permissive atmosphere which contributed to the death of Timothy Piazza,” the presentment concludes.

Lexi Shimkonis is a news editor for Onward State. The Penn State sophomore is studying civil engineering. She calls Spring City, Pa. her home.
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