DA says Penn State’s handling of frats ‘a joke and a catastrophe’

A grand jury's report in the wake of a pledge's drinking death says that Penn State officials displayed "a shocking apathy" to dangers from excessive drinking and that its inaction allowed criminal acts to occur, District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said Friday.. (WjAC)

BELLEFONTE - In a highly critical report of Penn State University and its fraternity system, a Centre County grand jury on Friday pointed to numerous problems in the Greek life system.

The problems stem from a lack of university control, combined with hazing and repeated alcohol abuse, the report said.

Friday’s findings are the result of a follow-up by the grand jury, which first investigated the circumstances surrounding the death of fraternity pledge Timothy Piazza.

This phase of the report details past sins of PSU fraternities -- to the point where it openly asks if the fraternity system should continue --and asks the state legislature to take action.

The grand jury report blasts Penn State and fraternities on numerous counts.

It basically concludes that the school marketed fraternities on the basis of fun and party school, and said little about academics.

The grand jury criticizes the Interfraternity Council, saying it was simply students governing students.

“A joke and a catastrophe,” Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said at a news conference.

The biggest problem is Penn State administrators saying fraternities are private entities and properties and have little control of them, the report said.

The grand jury recommends the university take more control and crack down on fraternity violations. Also recommended is that the state legislature strengthen penalties for hazing and underage drinking.

The DA says Penn State issued a lengthy response to the grand jury findings that she terms an effort to scapegoat and point fingers elsewhere.

Penn State says it is cracking down on fraternities, with a half-dozen chapters being either closed or suspended in recent months.

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