Damon Sims addressed recent Greek life regulations at the first meeting of UPUA’s 12th Assembly, answering questions from representatives primarily related to the changes and future of Greek life.
Of particular concern was the regulation stating that fall rush was canceled for all students, though when asked about this Sims clarified that this is only true for incoming freshmen. For fall 2017, any student who has completed 14 credits at Penn State, has a 2.5 GPA, and is in good standing with the university will be able to rush.
On a more serious note, Sims implied the results of criminal investigations into Beta Theta Pi may be devastating to the Penn State community.
“It is going to be a very difficult experience for this university community, so I think the right thing to do is…try to mitigate these problems right now and not wait for additional bad news to come our way,” Sims said.
Student Timothy Piazza passed away February 4 at Hershey Medical Center as a result of traumatic injuries sustained when he fell down the basement steps at Beta Theta Pi fraternity on February 2. Piazza was accepting a membership bid at the fraternity’s bid acceptance ceremonies that night. Members of the fraternity did not contact paramedics until 12 hours after they say Piazza fell while intoxicated.
“I am probably the only person in the room who’s pretty certain he knows exactly what happened that night,” Sims said. He mentioned a statement from the Centre County District Attorney’s Office, which said results of the criminal investigation should be released by mid-April. Sims seemed confident the results of the investigation by Student Affairs will be echoed in the criminal investigation results.
Sims said the new regulations constitute the university’s risk management policy for Greek life. “We’ve completed our investigation and we know what happened in that house,” Sims said. “We cannot sit back idly.”
Though he iterated his openness to communicating with students, Sims seemed bleak on the future of Greek life unless changes are made.
“I’m also hopeful that if we all work together — if everybody actually comes together in a well-intentioned effort to try to find good solutions and balance various interests, I think we might have a fighting chance,” Sims said. If that doesn’t happen: “My prediction is in 20 years the Greek experience will be in Jeopardy.”