- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 18, 2017

Penn State stripped Beta Theta Pi of its status as a campus recognized fraternity Friday in reaction to the recent death of a sophomore pledge.

The university “has decided to withdraw immediately recognition of Beta Theta Pi fraternity,” it said in a statement Friday, as authorities and administrators continue to investigate the death of Timothy Piazza, a 19-year-old engineering student who died as a result of injuries allegedly sustained during a February 2 pledge acceptance ceremony.

“We cannot suitably convey the heartbreak we feel for the family and friends who are grieving the loss of Tim Piazza,” Damon Sims, Penn State’s vice president for student affairs, said in the statement “The information available to us about the actions that led to Tim’s death is deeply disturbing, and no sanction or restriction the University can levy is equal to the gravity of his death or the circumstances which we believe led to it.”

In revoking its status, the local Beta Theta Pi chapter and its members have been effectively booted from Penn State’s Greek community and stripped of the privileges otherwise afforded to campus fraternities and sororities, according to the school.

“This revocation will remain in effect no less than five years and may be made permanent upon completion of the criminal and University investigations now underway,” the statement said.

Authorities said Piazza and 13 others pledges had been attending an acceptance ceremony at the Beta Theta Pi house on the evening of February 2 when he fell down a flight of stairs. Paramedics weren’t alerted until around 12 hours later, however, and Piazza died at a hospital on Feb. 4.

Piazza was intoxicated at the time of the incident, authorities said.

Beta Theta Pi “will continue to cooperate in ongoing investigations and work closely alongside local authorities and our university partners,” the national chapter said in its own statement Friday.

“Outside of these parameters, however, the undergraduate members may not continue to operate as a chapter of Beta Theta Pi for any purpose,” it said, describing preliminary details about Piazza’s death as violating the frat’s “longstanding values of responsible conduct, mutual assistance and integrity.”

Penn State said it was working with Beta Theta Pi’s alumni board to discuss housing solutions for students affected by the ban. In the meantime, the university announced additional measures Friday affecting all recognized Interfraternity Council chapters, including a continued ban on social activities involving alcohol and a pause on all new member programs while the school investigates the events surrounding Piazza’s death.

Beta Theta Pi was founded at Miami University in Ohio in 1839. Today the fraternity boasts 137 chapters and roughly 10,000 collegiate members, according to its website.


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