Penn State frat suspended after allegedly intoxicated teen found unconscious

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iStock/Thinkstock

(NEW YORK) – A Penn State fraternity is facing punishment after a student was hospitalized after allegedly drinking too much alcohol. This comes just months after another fraternity at the school, Beta Theta Pi, was banned following the death of a pledge.

On Sept. 28, an 18-year-old male student who allegedly became intoxicated at Delta Tau Delta was found unconscious off campus by police, Penn State said in a statement.

The student was hospitalized and is recovering, the school said.

Penn State said Delta Tau Delta fraternity functions are “suspended on an interim basis” pending an investigation into the teen’s injuries.

Penn State said its Office of Student Conduct is investigating any alleged connection Delta Tau Delta may have with the 18-year-old’s hospitalization.

“The findings of the investigation will provide direction for decisions or sanctions that could follow,” the university said. “The Office of Student Conduct also is looking into whether individual students had a role in providing alcohol to minors that may have contributed to the injured student’s condition on Sept. 28.”
Delta Tau Delta said in a statement, “The health and safety of our members and guests remain a top priority. We share the University’s commitment to student well-being. Recognizing the concerns that led to the chapter’s interim suspension by the University, we will continue to work closely with them during the review of this situation.”

The teen’s hospitalization comes eight months after the death of Beta Theta Pi pledge Tim Piazza. Following his death, Penn State announced new reforms for safety, including limiting alcohol to beer and wine and banning kegs; no daylong events; no more than 10 social events with alcohol per semester; sanctions for Greek organizations that don’t prevent underage consumption and excessive drinking; and the university taking control of the fraternity and sorority misconduct and adjudication process.

Penn State also said all fraternities have been under a ban on alcohol-involved social functions until undergoing additional alcohol education and training.

Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs, said in Penn State’s statement, “The potential involvement of Delta Tau Delta is very disturbing news, given all of the recent efforts and education that have gone into emphasizing student safety.”

“None of us can be tolerant of organizations or individuals who value access to alcohol above student welfare,” Sims said. “We’ll see where our investigation of this incident leads.”

Sims added, “University leaders have acknowledged that excessive underage drinking is a vexing problem on campuses nationwide and true change will not happen without the members, chapters, alumni boards, housing boards, council, and national organizations commitment and partnership in putting student safety first.”

Penn State Greek life has been under a national spotlight since Feb. 4, when 19-year-old Piazza died after he fell down stairs at a fraternity house two days earlier during a night of drinking for a pledge ceremony.

Fraternity members did not call 911 until the morning of Feb. 3, about 12 hours after Piazza’s fall, according to a report on the grand jury’s investigation. High-quality surveillance video captured Piazza’s final movements throughout that night, including him falling multiple times. Piazza’s death “was the direct result of traumatic brain injuries,” according to the forensic pathologist.

Prosecutors allege that the former fraternity brothers waited to get Piazza help in an attempt to cover up their drinking and “coordinate a story.”

But defense attorneys say a “tragedy … doesn’t mean there’s any intent involved in any of this.”

Eighteen former members of Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi were initially facing charges.

On Sept. 1 charges were dismissed completely against four of the former fraternity members who were facing single counts of either tampering with evidence or recklessly endangering another person in this case.

The most serious charges, involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, were also dropped for eight former fraternity members.

Cases against 14 students will head to trial but for less serious alleged offenses.

The fraternity itself is also facing charges.

Beta Theta Pi has since been barred from Penn State.

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