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Penn State Completes Student Conduct Investigation in Connection with Piazza Death

by on November 07, 2017 3:13 PM

Penn State has completed a student conduct investigation and disciplinary process for 32 people in connection with the death of Timothy Piazza, the 19-year-old sophomore and fraternity pledge who suffered fatal injuries during a bid acceptance night at the now-banned Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

Of those investigated, 19 took "conduct withdrawals" from the university before the disciplinary process was finished, seven received disciplinary action ranging from probation to expulsion and six were investigated but not charged with any student conduct violations.

It was not clear if all 32 individuals were directly affiliated with Beta Theta Pi. Citing federal student privacy guidelines, a university statement said no additional information would be provided.

The 19 who took conduct withdrawals "will have a notation placed on their transcripts stating that while there has been no disciplinary conclusion, should the student seek to return to Penn State, he or she must first undergo completion of the University’s disciplinary process," according to the university statement.

The seven who received disciplinary action were found to have committed violations that included hazing and "creating a condition that endangers."

“We remain resolved to focus, as we always do, on student safety and well-being, and will continue to hold accountable any individuals or student organizations that put others in danger,” Penn State President Eric Barron said.

Piazza was one of 14 pledges who took part in an alcohol-soaked initiation event and party at Beta Theta Pi the night of Feb. 2 and early morning of Feb. 3. The pledges were put through a drinking "gauntlet" in which they went from station to station and were encouraged to rapidly consume beer, wine and vodka. Alcohol was then made available for a party in the basement of the house.

After falling head-first down the basement stairs at 11:22 p.m., Piazza could be seen on surveillance video in worsening condition throughout the night, falling several more times. Fraternity members did not call police until 10:48 a.m. on Feb. 3 when Piazza was found unconscious and rigid in the basement. He died on Feb. 4 as a result of non-recoverable brain injuries and internal bleeding.

Fourteen former members and the Alpha Upsilon Chapter of Beta Theta Pi face a variety of charges, with eight charged with the most serious crimes of aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter.

The chapter was permanently banned by Penn State in March and it was disbanded by the national organization.

Since Piazza's death, Penn State has taken over the Greek life disciplinary process, which was previously handled by fraternity and sorority councils, and instituted numerous reform measures ranging from a moratorium on events with alcohol to limits on alcohol once the suspension is lifted to changes to the recruitment process.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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