Fraternity House Deadly Fall

On Feb. 4, 2017, 19-year-old fraternity pledge Tim Piazza drank heavily at a Beta Theta Pi party at the fraternity house at Penn State, then fell head-first down basement stairs. Eleven former fraternity members were arrested in his death.

I haven’t checked in on Greek life on campus in a few months. Wonder if they’ve shown any improvement since I last wrote about it in January?

Looks like … nope.

•Swarthmore College, the Quaker-founded liberal arts school just outside Philadelphia, permanently banned all Greek groups this month after a pair of campus media outlets published four years of internal documents that, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “read like an X-rated newsletter to fraternity brothers.” In those documents, a fraternity member said a neighboring fraternity housed both a “rape tunnel” and a “rape attic.”

• Up in Boone, Appalachian State University has banned one of its fraternities until 2023. During the past two years — while the fraternity had been suspended and was hoping to be reinstated, — App State administrators learned of “problematic social media posts, reports of police responding to calls at residential addresses of chapter members and referrals of multiple chapter members for student conduct proceedings,” according to the Watauga Democrat.

• In April, a Furman University student died at a spring break fraternity party on Hilton Head Island. Furman appears to have taken no action against that fraternity. In January, however, Furman closed down another campus fraternity for “repeated and significant conduct violations by the chapter, which include hazing, provision of alcohol to minors, and risk management violations,” according to the Greenville, S.C., paper.

• This week, Louisiana State University closed one fraternity chapter until 2023. That brings to four the number of fraternities that LSU has shut down since the 2017 death of a pledge, according to the Baton Rouge paper.

• The Chronicle this month produced this long report on Central Michigan University, which banned a fraternity after the off-campus drinking-and-falling-down-the-steps death of a fraternity member. The details of this particular incident aren’t surprising. What’s shocking is that students, administrators and others at Central Michigan had been complaining about this particular chapter for more than a decade.

Central Michigan’s student newspaper deserves a lot of credit for dredging up university documents and reporting on this important campus story. You can read its coverage here.

• Lastly: Do you remember all the back in February when folks were mad about people finding pictures of Confederate flags and white people in blackface in college yearbooks? Not surprisingly if you've read this far, plenty of those pictures featured fraternities.

Have something to say about the blog post above? Email me at john.newsom@greensboro.com. You can also follow me on Twitter at @JohnNewsomNR.