LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The alcohol hazing death of a Penn State fraternity pledge was a sobering lesson tonight for incoming freshman entering into fraternity life.
An orientation was held on KU’s campus Thursday night to remind these young men to think before they act.
“We’re all brothers, we’re not going to do anything stupid,” said PJ Daly, a freshman at KU.
It’s a mindset that many young men in college believe.
“Young people think they’re bullet proof, they think nothing bad can happen to them, but what we’re trying to get across is, it can, better off avoiding it, then getting near it,” said Dave Steen - President of Kansas Fraternity Landlords’ League
The event, “Building Brothers: A Freshmen Orientation," was planned to help freshmen properly prepare for fraternity life. The orientation included ten fraternities comprised of about 300 new freshman.
“We feel like the orientation they get otherwise is kind of helter skelter, so we have specific speakers we want to have talk to them about kind of contemporary topics these guys have to deal with in college,” Steen added.
There were multiple speakers, including the Executive Director of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity International…who shared lessons learned from the tragic events at the Penn State Beta Theta Pi chapter earlier this year.
“I think it’s very unfortunate that these kids decided to do that to someone else, they just pushed it way too far, and that’s not what this is about, fraternities are so much more than that,” Daly said.
“It’s a shame that it happened. It shouldn’t happen in any fraternity at all,” said Dutton Hughes, a freshman at KU.
Multiple members of Penn State’s Beta fraternity were charged with involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault after 19-year-old Timothy Piazza died from complications from severe head and internal injuries after participating in an alcohol fueled obstacle course for new pledges known as “ The Gauntlet”.
“What happened at Penn State is just very unfortunate, when I rushed it was a very fun experience, I knew guys coming out of high school, and overall it was just a great experience, and now I’m here with 38 of my best friends,” added Daly.
Dutton Hughes, a freshman living in the Beta house at KU, said the brotherhood they hold is very special, and the actions of one house does not reflect them all.
“I would say it’s definitely not the Beta way…it’s a shame it happened, and it’s not something I hope to ever hear about again,” Hughes said.
So tonight, these young men listened to speakers who are simply trying to be realistic about what these students need to think about as they make decisions.
“Most of them, probably all of them, this is the first time living away from home, and there’s a lot of distractions, a lot of things that come their way that they’ll need to exercise some judgment about,” said Steen, “Sometimes you can make a mistake that you can’t recover from, sometimes you can, but the point is, you don’t know when you’re making the mistake which ones are going to be ones you can recover from, which ones you can’t…we’re trying to give them a little food for thought, you know there’s a few things you may want to think twice about before you engage.”
Many of the students there said while having a social life is obviously a huge part of fraternity life— they say academics and community service are also a top priority.