Get rid of fraternities

September 21, 2018

I attended Gettysburg College for my undergraduate studies.  During my freshman year, although I realized the attraction of joining a fraternity for the sake of being part of a clique and having a ready-made social life, I resisted and did not pledge a fraternity.  The next year, though, my sophomore year, I gave in to the pressure of both the above-mentioned points and pledged a fraternity.

 

I'm no longer in contact with any of the members of my fraternity and joining is one of my regrets in life, now more so after reading the brutal story of Tim Piazza, which I'll share immediately below verbatim from Wikipedia.  After reading it, I hope you'll agree with me that, at a minimum, anti-hazing laws should be enacted and, ideally, all social fraternities should be abolished.

 

"Piazza was a 19-year-old sophomore engineering student at Pennsylvania State University. He was a pledge of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at the university. On the night of February 2, 2017, while undergoing hazing rituals for the fraternity, Piazza, on an essentially empty stomach, drank large amounts of alcohol in a short time as part of an obstacle course called "The Gauntlet", which required each pledge to drink from a bottle of vodka, drink a beer, and finally drink from a bag of wine. It later was revealed that Piazza took prescription anti-depressants, which contributed to his inebriation. The fraternity was supposed to be alcohol-free after a suspension in 2009."

 

"In this state of intoxication, he fell on the basement stairs of the house and was knocked unconscious. He was carried to a couch, where surveillance cameras captured the formation of a large and obvious bruise on his left abdomen. One fraternity member tried to convince the others that Piazza needed immediate medical help, but was ignored."

 

"Some time later, Piazza regained consciousness and rolled off the couch. Three brothers picked him up and "slammed" him back onto the couch. Security footage shows brothers slapping Piazza in the face, punching him in the stomach, and pouring beer on him, but he remained unconscious and unresponsive. He rolled off the couch again and curled his body, clutching his abdomen."

 

"In the early morning of February 3, 2017, Piazza tried to get up, but once he reached a standing position, fell backwards. He continued to stand up only to repeatedly fall back down. Once he was finally able to maintain balance, he staggered toward the lobby area of the house, but fell again head first into an iron railing and landed on a stone floor, likely incurring serious head trauma. He got up and tried to reach the front door but fell head first into it, knocking himself unconscious again. He later tried once more to descend the basement stairs, but fell down again, and remained at the base of the stairs until several of the fraternity brothers discovered him several hours later behind the bar in the basement, cold and breathing rapidly."

 

"It was at this point that he was carried upstairs. After 40 minutes of debating on what the next step should be, the conclusion was made that Piazza's injuries were indeed serious, and that he would require medical attention. Before emergency assistance arrived, the brothers wiped blood from his face and attempted to dress him, but his body was too rigid to successfully put clothes on. Roughly twelve hours after his initial fall, emergency services were summoned but not informed that the fall had occurred the night before. Piazza was brought to Mount Nittany Medical Center, but was quickly transported to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center because of the severity of his injuries."

 

"Upon arrival, Piazza was rushed into surgery, where he was discovered to have a ruptured spleen and class IV hemorrhagic shock. His brain had swollen to the point that roughly half of his skull had to be removed to relieve the pressure. The surgeons attempting to save his life deemed the injuries to likely be nonrecoverable, and Piazza was pronounced dead in the early morning of February 4, 2017. He is estimated to have had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of nearly .40 on the night of the hazing incident."

 

God bless the soul of Tim Piazza.  To honor his life, we must recognize the pernicious aspects of fraternity life on college campuses in the United States -- from alcohol abuse and the cliqueish social division of students to sexual assault and the objectification of women -- and get rid of all fraternities.

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