On Feb. 4. Penn State sophomore Timothy Piazza tragically passed due to injuries from a fall down a set of basement stairs at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house at 11 p.m. on Feb 2. Members of the fraternity, where Piazza was pledging, almost immediately moved him upstairs. However, an ambulance was not called until 10:49 a.m. on Feb. 3. The medical examiner stated that Piazza sustained, “multiple traumatic injuries from a fall,” also adding that he had been intoxicated.
Although Piazza’s death was ruled “accidental,”criminal charges could be filed if there is evidence of reckless endangerment, according to attorney Stewart Eisenberg of Eisenberg Rothweiler in Philadelphia, a personal injury law firm, because of the 12 hour gap. As of Feb. 7, Penn State University and its Interfraterinity Council has called for a, “halt [to] all social activities for IFC chapters until further notice.” The release also stated that the cause for this suspension was not only for “a tragic student death associated with activities in a fraternity house,” but also, “growing allegations of misconduct in these organizations, including hazing and sexual assault, compel this joint action.”
Twelve hours. Twelve hours passed where an ambulance could have been called to save a life. Twelve hours where this 19-year-old sat injured and intoxicated with no one concerned enough, or paying close enough attention to take action. Although there is no official ruling, the heartbreaking reality is that people were incredibly morally incompetent. There is never any amount of “trouble” you could get in that you couldn’t get over by saving a life. And this is a tragedy that could happen on any campus, including ours.
It is no secret that students at our university drink, go to parties and the bars multiple days throughout the week. While these late night parties often create fun memories and harmless regrets, it is always important to sit back and take a look about how much alcohol we consume and our personal consumption limits, not to mention the way we treat one another.
According to the 2015 study by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 58 percent of full-time college students ages 18–22 drank alcohol in the past month compared to 48.2 percent of other persons of the same age. About one in four college students report academic consequences from drinking. This included missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers and receiving lower grades overall. And, 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.
We all come to the university knowing very few to no other students. Although the people we meet or hang out with on our nights out may not always be our best friends, we are all one family living in Durham, and fellow Wildcats should all be looking out for one another. The story of Timothy Piazza’s death is not only heart-rending but pitiful and extremely upsetting. The life and success of a young man, lost due to ignorance and skewed priorities.
There should never be a negative or “un-cool” stigma associated with calling authorities when someone is clearly injured or ill, especially when alcohol or drugs are involved. As one community, and as individual Wildcats, we must never forget that compassion and awareness for ourselves and others is crucial to the safety of our Durham family.
The members of The New Hampshire send our deepest condolences to friends and family of Timothy Piazza.