Penn State revokes fraternity recognition over student's death

Timothy Piazza died on Feb. 4th two days after falling at Beta Theta Pi at Penn State.         

Timothy Piazza died on Feb. 4th two days after falling at Beta Theta Pi at Penn State. WTAJ

The district justice office confirmed that Braxton Becker, a Beta Theta Pi fraternity member, has been arrested and is facing drug charges. The University's statement and actions described below have no relation to these charges and are unrelated.

Penn State on Friday withdrew its recognition of Beta Theta Pi, the fraternity where a student from New Jersey died after a fall earlier this month.

The fraternity has been suspended and police are investigating his death.

Piazza, a 19-year-old from Readington, died on February 4 after he fell down the stairs of the Beta Theta Pi frat house days earlier.

The decision to revoke the recognition of the fraternity was made with Beta Theta Pi's national headquarters, according to the release.

"We can not suitably convey the heartbreak we feel for the family and friends who are grieving the loss of Tim Piazza", Penn State Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims said in the statement on Friday.

"We can not 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 a release announcing today's moves.

The university says it will work with the group's alumni board to find housing for the students still living in the chapter house, but the house remains private property and the chapter is a private association.

Beta Theta Pi is no longer a Penn State fraternity. The University's recognition is a privilege for these associations, not a right, and it can be withdrawn under the appropriate circumstances.

The university, meanwhile, disclosed additional moves affecting all Interfraternity Council chapters that the university recognizes.

Further, the University will put into effect several long-term substantive changes needed in its Greek-letter community.

Penn State said it also is instituting long term measures to curb underage drinking and alcohol abuse, sexual assaults, hazing and unruly gatherings.

In addition to continuing the social activity ban through the spring semester, Penn State is implementing "immediate cessation of all new member programs now underway in IFC chapters, until the University is assured that effective and credible plans are in place to end hazing", as well as unannounced compliance checks.

The investigation into the accident is focused on "excessive alcohol consumption and fraternity hazing activity" that went on that night, according to State College Police Chief John F. Gardner, who said that 14 pledges were in the fraternity house that night for a bid acceptance ceremony.

Penn State said individual students who broke the law or campus policies will face sanctions up to removal from Penn State.

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