After hazing deaths, parents unite with fraternities to make change

Jim Piazza speaks about the importance of passing anti-hazing legislation at a March event with his wife, Evelyn, outside a courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. Their son, Timothy Piazza, a Penn State University student, died after a night of hazing and drinking at a fraternity. (Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times)

September 10, 2018

Early this spring, Jim Piazza emailed the leader of a national association of fraternities and said: We need to talk.

Piazza’s son Tim died after falling down stairs at a Penn State University fraternity bid event, one of several horrific deaths of young people in recent years that brought national attention to the dangers of hazing. Colleges across the country have grappled with the issue unsuccessfully for many years, with initiation traditions continuing in many places despite rules barring them.

Judson Horras, president and chief executive officer of the North-American Interfraternity Conference, agreed to meet with Piazza and another father whose son had died after hazing, Rich Braham. There was trepidation on both sides, Braham said. “We lost our kids to Greek-life organizations and we’re meeting with the enemy,” he said.