By Donna C. King, chairman 2015-17
For those that have closely followed the news out of Penn State University this spring, the details of the tragic death of Timothy Piazza have been both shocking and heartbreaking. Words cannot adequately express the extent of the tragedy; put simply, a community that exists to support and nurture young people fell devastatingly short of its goals and ideals.
While the events that led to Tim’s death may have taken place in a fraternity, the changes needed to keep them from happening again require that all of us take action. This has been, and continues to be, our message with the leadership at Penn State University and on campuses throughout the U.S. and Canada.
With the unanimous support of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) Board of Directors — as affirmed at our recent meeting — we stand ready to work closely with Penn State as the campus implements changes in its community. And as that process unfolds, it is essential that we ensure the community-wide engagement required to make sure the reforms are successful. Only when we work together can we transcend this tragedy to create a stronger, safer and more supportive campus community.
As one of the world’s largest organizations advocating for women, NPC has long been a part of the fight against hazing. We stand committed to addressing this pervasive problem arm in arm with our campus partners and other collegiate organizations.
In 2014, NPC stated its strong position against hazing and voiced its support for anti-hazing initiatives that engage and empower students to enact positive change and meaningful reform within our community. Hazing undermines the values and ideals of sorority and fraternity life, and serves as a detriment to our ultimate goal of building strong, independent and engaged leaders on college and university campuses.
Today it is more crucial than ever that we reiterate this position, affirming our commitment to thoughtful, substantive partnerships with institutions of higher education where any of our 26 member organizations are recognized. NPC’s utmost priority is the safety of our students, and through transparency, collaboration and advocacy, we hope and believe, we can create campus cultures that reflect our shared goals and ideals – and, most important, keep students safe.