Last week, Penn State University implemented a sweeping ban, barring alcohol from social events at fraternity and sorority houses on its main campus. The move comes after the death of a 19 year old student from New Jersey who was a member of a fraternity. According to a news release by philly.com, the student was intoxicated when he fell down a flight of stairs after a party on February 2, 2017. Paramedics weren’t called until 12 hours later. The student later died at Hershey Medical Center. The fraternity has since been suspended. See philly.com, Penn State puts stop to fraternity parties serving alcohol (accessed 2/10/17).
Related: Pennsylvania Attorney Brian Kent Files Lawsuit Against PA College and Fraternity for Assault, Murder of Student [In January 2017, Pennsylvania crime victims’ attorney Brian Kent filed a landmark lawsuit against a Pennsylvania college and fraternity after an 18 year old freshman was murdered in her dorm room after attending a frat party. See Estate of Karlie Hall v. Millersville University, et al.]
This recent case is nothing new. In recent years, we’ve seen a spike in the number of serious injuries and deaths attributed to fraternity activities such as parties where alcohol is served to underage students and hazing incidents.
Pennsylvania Hazing Event Leads to Death of Frat Pledge (2015)
In 2015, over 30 members of a fraternity were charged in connection with the death of a 19 year old pledge that occurred during a pledge event in 2013. The incident involved a local chapter of a national fraternity at a private college in New York. The fraternity took its members and 4 pledges to a rented house in the Poconos, Pennsylvania. At one of the pledge events, pledges were beaten by fraternity members. One of the pledges became unconscious. Instead of calling 911, members of the fraternity searched online for symptoms and waited an hour before taking him to the hospital where he later died.
In addition to incidents involving alcohol and hazing, fraternities have faced increased scrutiny for sexual abuse or assault. Penn State is no stranger to these cases. A few years ago, a fraternity was banned from Penn State for 3 years after local law enforcement uncovered a private social media page where members posted sexually explicit photos of unconscious or sleeping women. Additional allegations included selling drugs and underage drinking.
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