Academics

Jim and Evelyn Piazza return to Penn State, address broad group of students

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Jim and Evelyn Piazza, parents of Timothy Piazza, addressed an audience of about 600 Penn State students on April 4 during a guest lecture in the class “Anthropology of Alcohol.”

Timothy Piazza was a sophomore at Penn State who died in February 2017 during pledging activities at the now permanently banned chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

This was the Piazzas’ first talk at Penn State since they visited in August 2018 to address the Greek-life community during “Reframing the New Member Experience,” a program coordinated by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to help chapter officers redefine the experience that new members undergo during Greek-letter organization recruitment and new member initiatives.

They began this talk sharing memories from their son’s life before discussing the events that led to his death and the role that alcohol played in the tragedy. 

Emphasizing that they are not trying to end Greek life or ban alcohol, the Piazzas said they simply want students to consume alcohol safely and responsibly. They cautioned against the many dangers of binge drinking and alcoholism, including how it can impair the decision-making process and put students in dangerous situations. 

Since their son’s death, the Piazzas have been traveling the country to raise awareness about the dangerous and often deadly consequences of hazing and excessive drinking on college campuses.

Since 2017, Penn State has undertaken a series of aggressive measures to overcome challenges in its Greek-letter community related to hazing, the misuse of alcohol, sexual assault, and overly large and disruptive social events. These measures and others have resulted in decreases in alcohol-related emergency room visits and reductions in alcohol-related crimes and noise violations in areas where fraternity houses are located, as well as increases in grade-point averages for Greek-life members.

Earlier this year, the University announced the new Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform, which will develop and manage a national scorecard on fraternities and sororities, host national conversations on hazing and the misuse of alcohol, collect and distribute best practices, and sponsor original research. 

Last Updated April 05, 2019