Timothy Piazza's Death Isn’t On Greek Life Or Penn State. It’s On Us

Timothy Piazza's Death Isn’t On Greek Life Or Penn State. It’s On Us

I never want to hear a story like his again.
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If you’re a college student, you’ve probably heard about the horrific and sad news of PSU student Timothy Piazza’s death.

As my friends and I read about how Piazza’s brothers neglected him as he vomited, fell down stairs, and struggled to sit or walk, they expressed their shock and disgust. Sadly, I wasn’t shocked. The details seemed all too familiar – it was like I heard the same story before.

And that’s because I have.

* * *

In 2013, a student who graduated from my high school, Mike Deng, was pledging the Pi Delta Psi fraternity at Baruch College. As a hazing activity, Mike and other pledges were blindfolded and forced to carry bags filled with sand while brothers tackled them. He was knocked down and hit his head. He was unconscious for hours.

His brothers tried to wake him up.

Timothy’s brothers tried everything they could to wake him up, dumping water on him and slapping his face.


They freaked out, and called their president asking him what they should do. He tells them to destroy all evidence linking the frat to the incident.

A brother screams at everyone to get help for Timothy, but he’s slammed into a wall and yelled at. The Vice President tells him he’s being crazy and overreacting.


When Mike failed to wake up after two more hours, his brothers hid all PDPsi-related paraphernalia and deleted texts and group messages.

When Timothy failed to wake up, his brothers deleted all Beta-related texts and group messages. They wiped his face and dressed him up.


They called for help but it was too late.

They called for help but it was too late.


Mike was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Timothy was pronounced dead at the hospital.



His parents picked up the phone the next morning and had to hear the words: Your son died yesterday from major brain trauma.

His parents picked up the phone the next morning and had to hear the words: Your son died yesterday. He had toxic levels of alcohol in his blood.

* * *

I didn’t know Mike personally, but he was a familiar face. I had seen him in the hallways and heard from other students about what a great guy he was. For a week, the atmosphere at my high school wasn’t the same. Everyone was devastated. Our community had lost someone. A lot of us didn’t know him but as fellow students, we felt sad for him, his friends and his family. He was just like us – a Bronx Science student with a bright future. And his future was taken away much too early.

I imagine that right now, Penn State students feel the same way.

Over the past 48 hours, the reaction has been huge. In the comments of the article, I see outraged parents, a frustrated administration and angry students. Each pointing fingers and asking, “Who is to blame?”

Some fingers are pointing at the Penn State administration. Some point to the culture at Penn State. A lot of these fingers point to Greek life.

As a member of a sorority, I admit that Greek life has become less about ritual, tradition, sisterhood/brotherhood — the three foundations it was founded on — and has increasingly become more about the parties, the social hierarchy, and risk management. There have been conversations about the administration at Penn State wanting to eliminate the Greek system completely, because of this.

However, it is unfair to say that situations like these are a Greek problem. This is an “us” problem. College itself has become less about the education and more about the glamor. “Going out” used to be defined as fun casual nights out with friends, but now it’s drinking in a house party basement full of strangers until you black out.

When we’re confronted with situations like these, where a friend drinks a life-endangering amount and it’s our responsibility to make the call for help, a lot of us are afraid to make that call.

We’re isolating this problem so that it seems exclusive to Greek life. Yes, in all honesty, Greek life has a strong focus on social events and parties but this could’ve happened at any party — Greek or not. This could’ve happened to anyone.

It could’ve been a high school student drinking for the first time at a house party and dying because his friends were afraid of being arrested for underage drinking. It could’ve been an athlete who just joined a varsity team being pressured into drinking excessively and dying because his teammates were afraid of being arrested for hazing. It could’ve been a band member who was physically hazed and died, because everyone thought he was fine.

It could’ve been any of these people — because it has happened to all of these people.

2006 – Limestone College student Zach Dunlevy was carried back to his room after blacking out at a lacrosse party, and left in his dorm room bed. He was found unresponsive the next morning and died from an alcohol overdose.

2011 – Takeimi Rao died at the age of 14 from alcohol poisoning at a sleepover.

2011 – Band member Robert Champion died from blunt force trauma after being physically hazed with drumsticks and mallets on a band bus.

Strict enforcement or elimination of fraternities and sororities is not going to stop deaths like these. Parties will still happen. Students will still drink, not knowing their limits. Their friends will watch, still afraid to step in. What really needs to change is the way we react and think.

It’s also not just a Penn State thing. A month ago, the administration at my college, Lehigh University, drafted an email to be sent to the student body notifying them that a student from our school had passed away after being hospitalized for an alcohol overdose. The email was never sent out. After being extremely close to dying, a miracle happened. Even though doctors told her parents and Lehigh that she probably wouldn’t make it, she woke up. Hearing this news, I was shaken.

Other Lehigh students also woke up after hearing this, but it shouldn’t have to take a near-death experience to get our attention.

In situations like these, we often lose sight of what’s important. Our first reaction is “What will happen to me? Will I get cited? Will I be arrested? What if my parents kill me? What if the school punishes me?” when it really should be “What will happen to my friend? Will he/she be okay? What if a family loses their son/daughter? How will I live with myself if they die because I didn’t get them help in time?”

Ask yourself if avoiding a citation is more important than saving your friend’s life.

The administration can make 20 different types of alcohol training classes required for students if it wanted to; it can implement medical amnesty policies; it can get rid of Greek life; it can tell RAs to be stricter. But that’s the full extent of their power.

There’s only so much they can do. It’s up to us to care about each other and rely on each other to help each other when our lives are in danger.

I hope that Timothy and Mike’s story will encourage other college students to start being less selfish and more smart, so I never have to hear the same story ever again.

SEE ALSO: What Happened To Tim Piazza Could Have Happened To Anyone

SEE ALSO: What Greek Students Can Learn From Penn State
Cover Image Credit: Timothy Piazza / Facebook

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50 One-Liners College Girls Swap With Their Roomies As Much As They Swap Clothes

"What would I do without you guys???"
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1. "Can I wear your shirt out tonight?"

2. "Does my hair look greasy?"

3. "We should probably clean tomorrow..."

4. "What should I caption this??"

5. "Is it bad if I text ____ first??"

6. "Should we order pizza?"

7. *Roommate tells an entire story* "Wait, what?"

8. "How is it already 3 AM?"

9. "I need a drink."

10. "McDonalds? McDonalds."

11. "GUESS WHAT JUST HAPPENED."

12. "Okay like, for real, I need to study."

13. "Why is there so much hair on our floor?"

14. "I think I'm broke."

15. "What do I respond to this?"

16. "Let's have a movie night."

17. "Why are we so weird?"

18. "Do you think people will notice if I wear this 2 days in a row?"

19. "That guy is so stupid."

20. "Do I look fat in this?"

21. "Can I borrow your phone charger?

22. "Wanna go to the lib tonight?"

23. "OK, we really need to go to the gym soon."

24. "I kinda want some taco bell."

25. "Let's go out tonight."

26. "I wonder what other people on this floor think of us."

27. "Let's go to the mall."

28. "Can I use your straightener?"

29. "I need coffee."

30. "I'm bored, come back to the room."

31. "Should we go home this weekend?"

32. "We should probably do laundry soon."

33. "Can you see through these pants?"

34. "Sometimes I feel like our room is a frat house..."

35. "Guys I swear I don't like him anymore."

36."Can I borrow a pencil?"

37. "I need to get my life together...."

38. "So who's buying the Uber tonight?"

39. "Let's walk to class together."

40. "Are we really pulling an all-nighter tonight?"

41. "Who's taking out the trash?"

42. "What happened last night?"

43. "Can you help me do my hair?"

44. "What should I wear tonight?"

45. "You're not allowed to talk to him tonight."

46. "OMG, my phone is at 1 percent."

47. "Should we skip class?"

48. "What should we be for Halloween?"

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Cover Image Credit: Hannah Gabaldon

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8 Things You Should Know about being a Server

"Some of my customers make me want to print this out and staple it to their foreheads."

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I wrote this out of frustration of the ones who don't know what it's like to be a sever.

This has been on my heart ever since I became a server and it's these things I want everyone to understand.

1. We don’t make an hourly wage

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Well, we do, but it's only $2.15 an hour. After taxes are taken out, it comes to be roughly $0.75 an hour. Being a server is not like other jobs, we do not rely on our weekly check to pay the bills or put gas in our cars. If I serve 6 tables in one night and they all leave me $3, looks like I'm leaving with only $18. My paycheck from my 40 hour pay period of 2 weeks is only going to turn out to be about $30, that is if I don't get money taken out for employee meals. Servers work late nights so there is no proper time for dinner so getting an employee meal is sometimes the only option.

2. 15% is not a good tip

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Before I started serving I thought that 15% was what I left when my server did a very good job. Keywords of that sentence is “before I became a server." If your server did an excellent job, AT LEAST leave 20%. We would appreciate more, but anything is better than 15%. If you don't know how to calculate this, pull out your calculator, type in the amount of your bill, and multiply by 0.20 and there you go!

3. The attitude you have towards me reflects my attitude towards you

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I'm not saying if you're super sassy with me, then I'm going to be super sassy back. I'm saying that if you seem like you don't want to be here and don't talk a lot, then I'm not going to try to spark a conversation with you. I love when my customers acknowledge me and try to spark a conversation themselves. For every customer, I want to make your experience at this restaurant the best that I can make it, but if you don't talk back, I'll try to come to your table the least that I can.

4. Acknowledge me when I come to your table

It is one of the most embarrassing things when I come to the table and you keep talking amongst yourselves when I have asked you a question. I won't be there for long so while I'm standing there, please listen to me and answer my question and then I will be on my way. Most people act like it's not my job to come up and ask what you want to eat.

5. I don’t work in the kitchen, so if your food isn’t cooked right, don’t get an attitude with me

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Your fried grouper is over cooked? I'm very sorry and I will repeatedly tell you how sorry I am for that, but I want you to understand something. I am not in the kitchen cooking the food myself. The kitchen will mess up sometimes, just like I do, and that's okay. But please, don't get an attitude with me about it because it was not something I could have prevented. I promise we will work it out.

6. I am trained to have a greeting line, so please don’t interrupt me before I’m done greeting you

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“Hey how are you guys do..."

“I'll have a water with lemon."

I cannot tell you how many times this has happened to me. It is my job to ask you what you want to drink so I will get to it, but before I do that, let me get through my greeting line like I am trained to do.

7. Servers have a lot that goes through their minds

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“Ranch for table 6.

Refill drinks at table 7 and 8. Wow that guy drinks a lot.

Don't forget that the guy at table 7 wants his ribeye trimmed a certain way and cooked in-between medium and medium rare.

Where is the water pitcher??

Call out salads for table 8. No onions and peppers on one.

Grab the check from table 5.

Theres no more sweet tea in the urn. We need more!

UGH RANCH FOR TABLE 6!"

I saw something similar to this on Facebook one time, and I laughed at how accurate it was. If I forget that ranch for table 6 at the end of the night, it will hit me and I will feel and about it.

8. Lastly, I am human and I will make some mistakes

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I will stumble upon my words when I say filet mignon because for some reason it is a hard word for me to say. My mind will go blank sometimes when you ask me what kind of wine we have. I will mess up every now and then. Sometimes it will be your fault because just like me, you mess up too and that's perfectly OK.


Becoming a server was one of the most eye opening experiences for me and if I could, I would make it a law for everyone to be a server at some point in their life, but that would be really silly. I hope this opens the eyes of some people. I know being a server isn't the most difficult job in the whole world, but I can promise you it is not the easiest either.

Cover Image Credit:

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