INDIANA, Pa. (KDKA) – The parents of a young man who died during hazing at a Penn State University fraternity were at Indiana University Of Pennsylvania on Monday night talking about what happened to their son and why colleges need to stop hazing.
The death of Timothy Piazza, the Penn State sophomore who tragically died in a fraternity hazing ritual, has them promoting Pennsylvania’s new anti-hazing laws.
Piazza’s parents are also trying to inspire other states to pass stricter legislation and for colleges and universities to change their rules as well.
The Piazza’s are working their way through the country speaking at colleges and universities. They say their smart, athletic son who was majoring in mechanical engineering wanted to marry his high school sweetheart and had his whole life figured out.
The parents say his loss hurts just as much now as it did two years ago.
“I was at Thon yesterday and looked around the room and thought my son should be here,” said Evelyn Piazza, Timothy’s mother.
“Thinking about how much he suffered throughout that 12-hour period of time and just no one would help,” said Timothy’s father Jim Piazza.
Timothy died after consuming 18 drinks of alcohol in less than 90 minutes. An unconscionable hazing ritual at Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity culminated in the 19-year-old falling down a flight of stairs to which no one called for help.
“It says a lot when a student wants to bring us in because obviously they want change,” Evelyn Piazza said.
On Monday night, the Piazza’s were invited by the fraternity and sorority groups at Indiana University of Pennsylvania is to share Tim’s story at a packed Fisher Auditorium.
“I feel like I’ve heard from other schools and stuff about hazing, it’s not just men,” said Kennedy Kengor.
The Piazza’s tragedy propelled change, Pennsylvania adopted some of the strictest anti-hazing laws in the country. Now, the parents are trying to change the culture among young people and what it means to have “fun” on campus.
“If you’re not ready to lead you need to step out,” Jim Piazza said.
“It’s not making a better man or woman it’s not building brotherhood,” Evelyn Piazza said.
The Piazza’s have visited 25 campuses already with more to come. They know even with legislation being passed in states like New Jersey and Indiana, laws alone won’t change everything, it still starts at home.
“When parents start seeing children going to jail, they will have a meaningful conversation with their kids,” Jim Piazza said.
The Piazza’s have joined forces with other parents who have lost their children to hazing. The coalition of families is calling for stricter anti-hazing legislation all across the country.