Hazing News

Why the Tim Piazza settlement victory matters: you can lose the house

Well-written piece from an attorney’s viewpoint: Tom Kline, Esq.


Known as the Timothy J Piazza  law,” the legislation was put forth by Senate Majority leader Jake Corman, a Centre County Republican, in response to the death of Pennsylvania State University student Tim Piazza, who died in 2017 following a booze-fueled fraternity party where hazing is alleged. Eight fraternity members initially were charged with felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter in his death, but a Centre County judge dismissed those charges.

The new legislation would make hazing a third-degree felony in the case of serious bodily injury or death, punishable by up to seven years in prison. It also would pave the way for fraternity houses used in hazing to be seized.

No other state has such a forfeiture provision for hazing, according to Hank Nuwer, a hazing expert and professor at Franklin College, and few states call the crime a felony.

“In my opinion, it’s trying to overcome the loopholes that have seen the harshest charges in the death of Tim Piazza dropped,” Nuwer said of the legislation. “And I agree with that.”

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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