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Pennsylvania Colleges and Universities Release First “Piazza Law” Reports

Under the provisions of the recently-enacted Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law, each college and university in Pennsylvania is required to publish a twice-yearly report detailing instances where hazing is alleged to have occurred on its campus and its response to such reports. In today’s post, the fraternity hazing lawyers at The Doan Law Firm present a summary of those reports.

Bucknell University

Bucknell University reported that one organization, “Bison Chips,” had been suspended for 2 years and that it’s Men’s Swimming and Diving, Women’s Swimming and Diving, and Men’s Lacrosse Teams had received disciplinary sanctions.

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University reported 3 incidents, with one sorority (Kappa Phi Lambda) receiving a 3-year suspension and a hazing complaint against another sorority (Delta Gamma) was currently under investigation. CMU also reported that a hazing complaint against the Pi Kappa Alpha was not proved and that no action was taken.

DeSales University

DeSales University reported no incidents.

Duquesne University

Duquesne University reported that it had investigated 7 incidents involving 4 fraternities and 2 sororities that resulted in either probation or suspension for less than one year. One fraternity (Alpha Tau Omega) had its local chapter’s charter suspended for five years by its national organization

Lehigh University

Lehigh University reported a state-leading 51 incidents that were reportable under the Piazza Law. The 51 incidents involved:

  • 17 fraternities / 27 investigations, as follows:
    • 9 fraternities were the subject of 1 investigation: Chi Phi, Delta Upsilon, Kappa Alpha Phi, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Sigma Kappa, Phi Upsilon, Psi Upsilon, Sigma Chi, and Sigma Phi Epsilon. No fraternity in this group was suspended or placed on probation for longer than 1 academic year.
    • 7 fraternities were investigated twice: Alpha Tau Omega, Delta Chi, Delta Phi, Kappa Alpha, Kappa Sigma, Phi Kappa Theta, and Pi Kappa Alpha. With the exception of Delta Phi (suspended through February 2019), no fraternity was suspended or placed on probation for more than 1 academic year.
    • Theta Xi was investigated 4 times. In all 4 investigations, the school found that there was no collaborating evidence of hazing and no action was taken.
  • 7 sororities / 11 investigations: (Alpha Gamma Delta [2], Alpha Omega, Alpha Omicron Pi [2], Alpha Chi Omega, Pi Beta Phi [2], Alpha Phi [2], and Lambda Theta Alpha). With the exception of Alpha Chi Omega (suspended for 2 years for hazing), no sorority was suspended or placed on probation for longer than 1 year.
  • 3 incidents / 3 investigations involving at least 1 or more fraternities and/or at least 1 or more sororities that were counted as a single investigation. No fraternity or sorority group was suspended or placed on probation for longer than one year.
  • 5 extracurricular groups such as athletic teams or activities sponsored by the school / 5 investigations: (Marching 97 Band, Men’s Rugby, Ultimate Frisbee Team, Varsity Football, and Varsity Softball). No team or group was suspended or placed on probation for longer than 1 year.
  • 5 investigations where the identity of a group, fraternity, or sorority was unknown. No group, fraternity, or sorority in this category was disciplined.

Lycoming College

Lycoming College reported 5 incidents involving 5 sororities (Alpha Rho Omega, Alpha Sigma Tau, Beta Phi Gamma, Gamma Delta Sigma, and Kappa Delta Rho). Of these, Kappa Delta Rho was permanently suspended and Gamma Sigma Delta was suspended for 1 year.

Pennsylvania State University

As we noted in a previous post on our website, Penn State released its report on January 15th of this year. In it, Penn State reported that:

  • Between January 1, 2013 and the end of Fall Semester 2018, a total of 31 disciplinary sanctions were placed on 19 “recognized student organizations”.
  • Included in those sanctioned organizations were 2 sororities and 2 “extracurricular” groups.
  • 6 fraternities were given multi-year suspensions.
  • Beta Theta Pi, the fraternity whose members were implicated in Piazza’s death, received the harshest penalties:
    • Beta Theta Pi was ordered to disband and was permanently expelled from campus
    • 5 fraternity members were expelled from Penn State
    • 6 members were suspended, but may apply for re-admission later
    • 2 members were placed on university probation
    • 21 fraternity members were allowed to “voluntarily withdraw” from Penn State, with the understanding that they would be disciplined if they returned to campus

There are also several criminal prosecutions underway at this time involving former Beta Theta Pi members.

University of Pittsburg

The University of Pittsburg reported 17 incidents, 3 of which resulted in suspensions of greater than 1 year:

  • Sigma Chi: Suspended until 2022
  • Sigma Alpha Rho: Suspended until 2021
  • Delta Phi: Suspended for 2 years until Spring 2019

Rosemont College

Rosemont College reported no incidents.

Villanova University

Villanova University published its report and, in it, identified a total of eleven cases that it was required to report under the Piazza Law. Of those eleven:

  • Six fraternities (Beta Sigma Pi, Delta Tau Delta, Sigma Chi, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Phi Sigma Kappa, and Sigma Nu) were reported to Villanova’s Student Life and/or Public Safety Departments. In each case the school found “insufficient evidence to support hazing charges” although “administrative sanctions” were imposed.
  • Three extracurricular organizations (the Sirens a cappella singers, Club Ice Hockey, and the Villanova University Band) were reported to Student Life as possibly having violated the school’s anti-hazing policies. As in the incidents noted above, an investigation by Villanova’s Public Safety Department found “insufficient evidence to support hazing charge[s]” and each group was given “administrative sanctions” by Student Life.
  • Villanova withdrew its recognition from two fraternities (Phi Gamma Delta and Sigma Alpha Epsilon). However, the wording used in its report suggests that action was taken only after the national offices of the respective fraternities had notified the school that they were revoking their local chapters’ national charters “… for violations of organization bylaws and potential hazing &hellip” and not as a result of an on-campus investigation.

Impact of the Timothy Piazza Anti-Hazing Law

The Timothy Piazza Anti-Hazing Law is a step forward in that it has toughened the penalties for individuals, social organizations, and schools convicted of hazing. However, a review of the information presented on this page strongly suggests that many colleges and universities have been “reluctant” to investigate (much less punish) hazing in the past. Only time will tell if the Piazza Law will have its intended effects.

The fraternity hazing lawyers, and staff, at The Doan Law Firm will continue to monitor the media for reported incidents of hazing and will provide updates.

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