Penn State's initial report on hazing violations published

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State today (Jan. 15) published its initial institutional report documenting hazing incidents at the University over the past five years, as required under the Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law. 

The law mandates Pennsylvania secondary schools and institutions of higher education publicly report violations of the schools’ hazing policies or state or federal laws regarding hazing. After the initial publication on Jan. 15, the reports must be updated biannually on Jan. 1 and Aug. 1 of every year. 

Penn State’s report, which includes all Penn State campuses, can be found on the Office of Ethics and Compliance website. As prescribed by the law, the report contains the name of the organization involved in the violation, the date when the group was charged with a violation, and descriptions of the violation and sanctions, if applicable. 

The Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law, or Act 80, is named after Timothy Piazza, who died tragically in February 2017 after hazing at the now permanently banned Beta Theta Pi fraternity. This new law establishes a tiered penalty system with stricter punishments for hazing; classifies new types of hazing; holds both individuals and organizations accountable for hazing; and requires secondary schools and institutions of higher education to publish antihazing policies. In addition, the statute provides immunity for individuals in need of medical assistance as a result of hazing or underage alcohol consumption, as well as for those who seek help for others.

Student safety remains a top priority at Penn State. Under the new act, all organizations whose members are primarily students are included, such as athletic teams, clubs, service organizations, Greek-letter organizations, and similar groups. 

The legislation was introduced on March 23, 2018, by Sen. Jake Corman, who represents Pennsylvania’s 34th District, with support from Jim and Evelyn Piazza, parents of Timothy Piazza. Penn State leaders were early advocates for the law and the Office of Government and Community Relations worked with state government officials to drive the legislation forward. The act was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in October and became Pennsylvania law on Nov. 18.

Hazing is illegal and not acceptable behavior for any student group. When Penn State is alerted to evidence of hazing, the University takes immediate action to investigate and impose significant sanctions, including application of the student conduct process where appropriate.

To encourage safety and accountability, Penn State last year updated its Responsible Action Protocol guidelines, which protect students who have been drinking or are under the influence of drugs and seek help for another student. Changes to the protocol now also extend protection from University conduct sanctions to the individual for whom help is sought.

Specific to Greek-letter organizations, in 2017, Penn State also announced a comprehensive set of safety initiatives, including deferred recruitment of members; University drop-in monitoring of fraternity houses; enhanced social restrictions and increased sanctions to deter alcohol abuse; and immediate revocation of University recognition for hazing that involves alcohol or physical abuse, and supporting enhanced educational measures in addition to those already in place. 

The University also publishes a Greek Chapter Score Card each semester, offering students and families data on membership, academic performance, and conduct at Greek-letter organizations. Over the past several months, Penn State also has been leading conversations on a national level to develop a national scorecard and to create a national database where universities can share new approaches to managing Greek life; legislative actions on a state-by-state basis; federal antihazing legislation efforts; and other vital information.