Penn State President Eric Barron spoke to the press Friday about the Beta Theta Pi fraternity criminal charges in the wake of pledge Timothy Piazza’s death in February.
On Wednesday, he addressed alumni directly in an email.
“We are reaching out to you today as you may observe Penn State being more vocal on this serious matter. Due to the complexity of this issue, the University believes it is important to offer perspective and background to those reporting,” he wrote. “Further, as the May 5 grand jury findings in the investigation of former members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity have now been released, you may have questions, or others may come to you with inquiries.”
Those investigating grand jury recommendations have thus far resulted in charges against 18 members of the fraternity Penn State has now permanently banned, as well as the chapter itself. The fraternity and some brothers have been charged with a long list of crimes as serious as involuntary manslaughter and hazing. Others are charged with just a count of reckless endangerment or tampering with evidence. Ten brothers were arraigned last week and eight more were in court on Tuesday.
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The message hit ground that Barron has previously covered in the press like the university’s response to the tragedy, including tighter restrictions on alcohol, social functions and recruiting. It also sought to “reiterate the commitment Penn State has had for more than a decade to focus on the Greek-letter community and issues that have impacted these groups nationwide, including the introduction of educational, enforcement and other programs, as well as policies that clearly spell out consequences.”
“There are no easy solutions, but the commitment remains strong. As mentioned in previous communications, Greek-letter organizations are self-governing private groups on private property, and thus instituting change is quite challenging and complex. The university welcomes and needs the partnership of alumni, parents, national organizations, and all other partners involved. Support and engagement are necessary in order to ensure immediate, vital and sustainable change,” Barron wrote. “An atmosphere needs to be established that protects and promotes the well-being and safety of all students in the Penn State community. Our efforts are focused on curbing dangerous drinking and other high-risk behaviors, and to bringing out the best of Greek-letter organizations and the communities they create.”