Piazza charges announcement

Jim Piazza, father of Timothy Piazza, reacts to the announcement of charges in his son's death at the Centre County Courthouse Annex on Friday, May 5, 2017.

The Board of Trustees was on a mission to implement “drastic” changes to Penn State greek life during a special off-cycle meeting Friday following the hazing-related death of Timothy Piazza.

But for Tom Kline, the Piazza family attorney, nothing has changed. He called the meeting and its “indefinite” proposals a disappointment.

“The action of the Board today was aspirational, not concrete,” Kline told The Daily Collegian. “There is nothing different than Feb. 4, which is the night Tim Piazza died.”

While university administrators took control of the disciplinary process for greek students — rather than allowing the Panhellenic and Interfraternity Councils to continue their self-governance — Kline said the “devil is in the details.”

In order for the university to truly reshape greek life, Kline said it’s important to see explicit guidelines and timelines, noting “Penn State has a very poor track record in disciplining its fraternities.” Plus, the clock before the fall semester gets underway is ticking, he added.

“The Piazza family is looking forward to the day when we see actual written policies, procedures and regulations implemented by the Board of Trustees,” Kline said. “We hope to have a significant contributing voice in that process.”

On Thursday night, parents Jim and Evelyn Piazza released a powerful letter to the board, informing trustees the world was watching their decisions “to do the right things, not the popular things.”

The Piazzas pushed for hazing law reform, with the board following suit through a zero tolerance hazing policy.

Their call for Penn State to claim authority in monitoring fraternities was also met — to an extent — with the introduction of a “greek-community relations staff.”

Kline commended Penn State for being philosophically aligned with his clients’ requests, but he stressed it’s time for action and real change.

Other recommendations from the Piazzas fell short, including firing administrators “who turned a blind eye to the issues in greek life” and expelling culpable students.

“There was noticeable silence about the proposals of holding accountable those who contributed to the death of Tim Piazza,” Kline said.

If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.