Penn State bans fraternity, cracks down Greek letter community
UNVERSITY PARK, Pa. – As Penn State’s student conduct investigation of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity continues, more disturbing facts have emerged, including a persistent pattern of serious alcohol abuse, hazing, and the use and sale of illicit drugs. The University has decided to permanently revoke recognition of Beta Theta Pi, banning it from ever returning as a chapter at Penn State. This action occurs in the context of a continuing criminal investigation into the death of Penn State sophomore Timothy Piazza.
“The University’s investigation has produced deeply disturbing evidence showing that Beta Theta Pi fell far short of its professed policies and values,” said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs. “The serious violations we have found include forced drinking, mandatory hazing and other illegal activity, which combine with a student’s tragic death to lead us to conclude that Beta Theta Pi, despite its notable history at Penn State, merits no continuing place in our community.”
In light of the ongoing investigation of Beta Theta Pi and growing evidence of problems within the University’s Greek-letter community, Penn State also announced that it will impose new aggressive measures on these groups in exchange for recognition. Implementation will require a collaborative effort that engages undergraduate active members, Greek council leadership, alumni, national organizations and University staff.
In order to sustain recognition, organizations must adhere to the following changes for the coming academic year:
- Formal recruitment of new fraternity and sorority members, also known as rush, will be deferred from fall to spring semester for both fraternities and sororities in the 2017-18 academic year. Requirements for students to participate in recruitment thereafter will include completion of at least 12 credits while enrolled full-time. In consultation with various constituents within the Penn State Greek-letter community and their national organizations, other requirements and the possibility of deferring rush until a student’s sophomore year will be considered for 2018-19. Further discussion about the size of new membership classes within these organizations will be part of an ongoing review.
- New social restrictions will include a strongly enforced prohibition against underage possession or consumption of alcohol in chapter houses and activities. Service of alcohol at social events must follow Pennsylvania law (e.g. limited to those 21 years of age or older), and must be distributed by RAMP trainedservers only, though third party, licensed RAMP certified servers are preferred. Only beer and wine may be served, and kegs will not be permitted.
- Attendance at social events will be limited to the legal capacity of the chapter house. No day-long events will be allowed, and no more than 10 socials with alcohol per semester will be permitted for each chapter, a reduction from the current limit of 45, which was established by Penn State’s Interfraternity Council.
- Failure by the Greek-letter organizations to effectively prevent underage consumption and excessive drinking in their facilities and activities may lead the University to adopt further restrictions, including the possibility of declaring that the system must be completely dry.
- These social restrictions will be enforced by a new monitoring protocol that will use both third parties and a combination of student leadership and University staff. When discovered, any violations of these expectations will result in appropriate and significant disciplinary action.
- There will be no tolerance for hazing in these organizations, as all hazing is a violation of Pennsylvania law. Hazing that involves alcohol or serious physical abuse will likely lead to loss of University recognition. Increased educational programming focused on preventing hazing will be mandatory for all chapter members.
These steps build on the University’s general moratorium on socials involving alcohol in fraternity chapters through the remainder of this spring semester, which was announced in February.