We’re very obviously a comedy site centered around the fraternity experience, but every so often we break away from that mission to address real problems facing Greek life and college students across the country. This is one of those times.
From Onward State:
The State College Police Department provided additional details today of the incident at Beta Theta Pi fraternity on Thursday, February 2, that led to the death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza. Emergency services were not contacted until 10:49 a.m. Friday morning — nearly 12 hours after fraternity members said Piazza fell down the basement steps during a party.
When patrol officers responded to the call, Piazza was unconscious. He was transported by ambulance to Mt. Nittany Medical Center Friday morning but was later flown to Hershey Medical Center. The Dauphin County coroner pronounced Piazza dead Saturday morning. The county will perform an autopsy.
Evidence is still being reviewed, so I’m not going to jump to any conclusions here. For all we know, Piazza was completely lucid after his fall and only fell unconscious a number of hours later due to internal injury, subsequently prompting the Betas to contact emergency services. But if it turns out that Tim Piazza died due to the inaction of a group of people who decided that their fraternity — one whose core values include responsible conduct, mutual assistance, integrity, and trust — was more important than his life, then there’s very clearly a tragic institutional problem at play here.
I understand that, when you’re an undergraduate, there’s nothing more important to you than your fraternity. I’ve been there. I’ve lived that. To an active, the mere idea of their fraternity being kicked off campus or having its charter pulled is absolutely terrifying; one of the worst things they can legitimately imagine happening to them. Their chapter composes such a large part of their college and developmental identity that they’d feel lost without it; incomplete… And yes, I understand how silly that sounds. Even when I, someone who’s been heavily involved in Greek life for the past 5+ years, read the words I just wrote, I find the whole idea that a fraternity can be so incredibly important to its members to be bizarre — but it’s just how it is; I can’t explain it any more than that. So to that extent, I understand the idea of chapter preservation feeling like a priority to all members.
But there are times when the possibility of your chapter being taken away from you must be willingly put on the table. When a human life is on the line is one of those times.
In some way, shape, or form, the idea that a fraternity member would do all he could to save another human’s life is reflected in every Greek organization’s values. And the idea that any fraternity member would intentionally disregard those values in order to protect the organization that exists solely for its members to live by them? What an affront to the whole basis of morality and fraternity. Sickening.
Your chapter is not more important than a human life. Nothing is..
[via Onward State]
Image via Penn State Beta Theta Pi