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Penn State revokes fraternity recognition over student's death

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State University has taken action against a college fraternity currently under investigation for the death of a student.

Timothy Piazza, 19, of Lebanon, died on February 4 from injuries he suffered in a fall down a stairwell at a college fraternity party. The coroner ruled his death an accident.

Police said members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity didn't call for help until about 12 hours after Piazza fell down the stairwell.

On Friday, Penn State announced "the university has decided to withdraw immediately recognition of Beta Theta Pi fraternity" that 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 loss of recognition means the fraternity and its members are no longer part of the Greek-letter community at Penn State and have been stripped of "any and all privileges or acknowledgements that come with university recognition."

The university said 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.

Penn State is also taking additional actions in the wake of Piazza's death, including continuing its ban on fraternity and sorority parties where alcohol is available, immediately halting all new programs in fraternity chapters and making unannounced compliance checks at chapter houses.

"The values and purposes aspired to by these organizations, which justify the university’s recognition, are too often not the outcomes we see in them," said Damon Sims, Penn State's vice president for student affairs.

"We are determined, in concert with our student leaders and others, to end any excesses related to the misuse of alcohol, hazing and other activities that are inconsistent with the University’s values and purposes, and should not be commonly found in the experience these groups offer to Penn State's students."

The university said it continues to cooperate with the State College Police Department's criminal investigation as the Office of Student Conduct conducts its own investigation.


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