With Tom Kline sniffing around, one of the most powerful lawyers in the state, Penn State has their guard up in preparation for the upcoming multi million dollar lawsuit. Don’t be fooled, Baron and Corman have known about the drinking problem in State College for YEARS.
Don’t get me wrong, Baron wants to put on a nice face, and look like he is doing everything to protect the university from the sure to becoming multi million dollar lawsuit. And that is his job.
Don’t get me wrong, Penn State has had an opportunity to address the drinking problem at Penn State since 2002 when the students were captured on national news rioting, burning cars, breaking storefront windows and rioting. I was a sophomore in college, I remember walking by a dormitory lounge on my way back from class. It was on CNN, and there was a crowd standing around at University Georgia, watching and drinking their dorm hall coffees. “Look at those animals,” I distinctly remember some tan southerner saying. I giggled, and watched closer. The street looked familiar. Wait! That looks like Beaver Avenue. Wait! That’s State College. Wait! That’s my hometown. “Animals,” said the shaggy haired Georgia Frat Boy next to me.
I knew then Pennsylvania had a problem, a real problem. I knew then Penn State was different from all these other big ten schools.
These politicians and university beaurocrats: It’s a day late and a dollar short. We didn’t see this type of hazing or the deaths, or the falling from roofs and balcony, or the constant rioting from other schools. Penn State chalked it up to being “cute.” It’s a party school, maybe we’ll get more recruits. Or they are just mad over football. I’ve mentioned it before but the residents of State College have been sick and fed up with the noise and the mess and the bad press for YEARS. Penn State doesn’t want to upset the greek donors, Penn State doesn’t think there is any big deal.
Now Corman and Baron, knowing Penn State is in some deep shit in civil courts with Kline and Specter coming after them, all of a sudden want to pretend they gave a shit all along, or pretend that the drinking problem at Penn state is “new” news to them:
The bill creates tiers for hazing. Hazing resulting in serious bodily injury or death would be a third-degree felony, which could include fines of up to $15,000 and imprisonment up to seven years. Hazing resulting in bodily injury would be a third-degree misdemeanor, which could include fines of up to $2,500 and imprisonment up to one year. Other hazing would be a summary offense.
Again, I would like to point out that upping criminal consequences are going to do little to change an ingrained Penn State cultural problem. Penn State gets a new student body of dumb 18 year old freshmen every year. They are going to drink, they are going to party. We’ve tried to ticket and jail our way out of the partying problem, but ultimately the longest running locals understand, it’s a cultural problem at Penn State. The bars are extremely strict and there is little place to hang out, the students take to the street and riot. Or they hit the frats, those are the two places to go to “party.” I’m not necessarily endorsing the acceptance of fake IDs, but look at the night and day. In these big southern universities, they have bars students can go in so as long as they wear an “underage” bracelet or get a “stamp” showing they are 21. There are venues that students can go, so they don’t have to take to the streets or go underground in clandestine fraternity basements and drink themselves to death. It’s an open container state, meaning students can get “to-go” beers and drink on the street. The drinking is less taboo, and the emphasis is put on safety. The campus provides free rides to students in vans to encourage not drinking in driving.
The message? The school knows their students are going to drink, and drink illegally. Do it safely, and minimize the damage. Put the emphasis on keeping the community clean, and the welfare of the students safe. There is very little criminizalization. When you wake up in Athens, Georgia and drive down Frat row (Milledge Avenue) on Sunday morning, the yards and streets are spick and span, because every Greek organization knows that if they act out, get a noise violation, make a mess of the community or otherwise annoy and disrupt the residents of the community, that the fines will be HEFTY. I mean HEFTY.
It also creates a category of “organizational hazing,” where groups, such as a fraternity, sorority or club, could be held to the hazing tiers if the organization “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly” promotes hazing.
Hazing is a part of the Greek tradition. There is safe hazing and unsafe hazing. The way to fix the hazing problem is through fines. It’s not to kill off the Greek tradition all together.
An “institutional hazing” category would include places in the state that grant associate or higher academic degrees. Hazing offenses by an institution would be punishable with a fine of up to $5,000. Aggravated hazing by an institution would be punishable with a fine of up to $15,000.
Why didn’t we do this years ago? Other universities have enacted fines like these. Why did Penn State take the threat of a hefty lawsuit by Kline & Specter, as well as some bad press to implement rules so many of the big ten universities have in place already? Were the complaints from the annoyed permanent residents of this community about the out of control behavior on fraternity row not enough? Apparently not, GREEDY Penn State was more worried about their donor base than the permanent residents of the State College borough Community. I say it again, A day late and a dollar short. Furthermore, why do we need legislation for this. Shouldn’t the lazy fat cats on the BOT be enacting school laws for this?
Other provisions in the bill include that institutions and high schools must: adopt written policies against hazing; provide copies of their policies to all organizations within the institution or school; have programs for enforcing the policies and penalties for violations; maintain reports of all violations of the institution’s antihazing policy or state or federal laws related to hazing; and establish safe-harbor criteria to protect someone from prosecution for involvement in hazing if that person is seeking assistance for someone who needs help.
The fines will more than suffice to put an end to Greek organizations to stop the madness. Trust me a $15,000 fine will speak volume to the leadership in Greek communities, and it will piss off the Greek alumni. Fining them is enough. Penn State does not need to create a new 800 line or a new department and waste a bunch of more tax dollars to address this. Let’s try not to go nuts in the face of the upcoming Kline & Specter lawsuit. Let the Penn State bureaucrats for once address the problem, a problem they knew existed for years. Let them follow in the footsteps of the other big ten universities, and not overcriminalize these issues and ruin the lives of new students for a culture they spent decades failing to address. Let’s not pretend this is a Penn State Greek problem, and instead be clear and label it like it is: It’s a Penn State culture problem, a Penn State problem. Not just a Greek problem.
Penn State President Eric Barron attended the press conference.
“This is a powerful bill. It’ll make a difference. I just want to make sure everybody knows that we need it to be passed. We should pass it as fast as we can,” he told reporters.
Florida Gator failed president has gotta pretend like he cares deeply about the new laws, when he knew about the problem previously and did nothing before Tom Kline showed up and threatened to sue him. That fat cat needs replaced. Nothing is more superficial than the press hungry presence of that not-from-Pennsylvania money, fame hungry, FRAUD. He was deaf to community complaints for years, and now all of a sudden he shows when the national press is around. Give me a goddamn break!
Penn State doesn’t need bills, or new laws, or new criminal consequences. It should have listened to the complaints from the community that have been going on for decades, and it needs to employ some common sense.
As for the accuseds in the Piazza case not showing up for their preliminary hearings? Well how many goddamn preliminary hearings have they had? About four. Some going on for the better part of the week and erupting in fireworks. Everyone is sick and tired of this case. Lets charge them with what this is, a furnishing case.
This is NOT an occasion for Eric Barron, or Tom Kline, or Jake Corman, or Stacy Parks Miller, or Josh Shapiro, to bask in the national spotlight of the media. This is not a time to blame or grow hysterical, or ban the Greek system or blame small segments of society.
This is a time to hold Penn State accountable, and responsible, and for the Penn State leadership to employ some goddamn common sense, which I think Tom Kline will effectively accomplish.
Penn State cannot SHELVE all this blame on 14 kids, they knew it was a problem for YEARS, and frankly deserve the coming lawsuit by Tom Kline. The justice for the Piazza family and the accountability for Penn State will come in civil court, because nothing speaks to Penn State like having to shell out millions of dollars for a problem they could have done more about (See Sandusky).