Penn State: Alcoholic Fraternity Hazing Destroys Dozens of Lives in One Night

May 6, 2017
Penn State campus

It’s no secret that many fraternities and sororities on campuses across the country endorse and promote a culture of drinking. It’s also no secret that initiation events sometimes end in some young adults drinking to drunkenness or even blackout. It’s easy to get injured on nights like these. At Penn State, one of these nights destroyed the lives of many young men who were present, all of their families and ended the life of one of their pledges.

Timothy Piazza was a 19-year-old pledge to Beta Theta Pi—a fraternity that professed itself “dry” or alcohol-free. But during his initiation, he was fed four alcoholic drinks in two minutes and then subsequently fell face-first down a flight of stairs. Timothy’s injuries were severe, including traumatic brain injuries, a fracture at the base of his skull and serious internal injuries. What really cost him his life is the fact that his fraternity “brothers” waited twelve hours to call for medical assistance.

In the meantime, they attempted to cover up any evidence of the accident, alcohol use at the fraternity house or involvement in his injury. They made searches on the internet for "falling asleep after head injury” and ”binge drinking, alcohol, bruising or discoloration, cold feet and cold hands.” They also shook the unconscious man, tried to dress him before emergency medical services arrived and deleted all their text messages discussing his injuries and unconsciousness.

The young man died from his injuries two days later. After an investigation, eighteen members of the fraternity were charged with crimes like involuntary manslaughter, furnishing alcohol to minors, and tampering with evidence.

Broken Hearts, Broken Minds

Some of these young men are going to jail. Every mother, father and sibling will suffer right along with those who lose their freedom. Hardest hit, of course, is the Piazza family who lost a beloved child. No one involved will ever be quite the same.

Soon after this incident, Penn State ended all alcohol-related social activities indefinitely.

Those who survive these alcoholic rituals in college—during pledge week or at any point during the academic year—may just consider them par for the course. But every year, more than 1800 college students die from alcohol-related injuries, including being killed in traffic accidents in which the driver was drinking or dying from injuries sustained while they were intoxicated.

Beer Company Promoting “Blackout” Drinking

Ironically, the same day the news of charges being file hit the internet, @digital_dad shared Instagram images showing the “Bud Light Ambassadors” from the University of Alabama promoting the consumption of their product while partying. One image showed a young woman holding a sign saying “ABBY’S 21.BLACKOUT” in one hand and a beer in the other. The sign seems to feature a photo of her in the midst of an alcoholic celebration of her 21st birthday.

Photo of young people drinking
This is a stock photo. We don’t own the rights to the Instagram photos of the Bud Light Ambassadors. But you can check out the real photos by clicking on the link to the right. They look a lot like this one.

Of course, the Bud Light Ambassadors are off-campus and beyond the control of the University of Alabama. But the young women and men appearing in this series of Bud Light Ambassador images actively support and promote the alcohol-consuming culture at colleges and universities. As long as this culture continues, we will lose far too many beautiful, intelligent young people each year to alcohol-related accidents and injuries.

To view Instagram images, click here:


Bud Light Ambassadors



For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.