Greek life, Athletics, and ROTC learn dangers of hazing

Gracelin Bjordal, Reporter February 13, 2024

Members of Greek life, athletics and ROTC meet presenters Rae Ann Gruver and Evelyn Piazza at their presentation Feb. 6 in Club 71.

Two moms who lost their sons to hazing give a presenation about hazings on college campuses

Two mothers who lost their sons to fraternity hazing presented “Love, Mom& Dad,” at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Club 71 Tuesday, Feb. 6. Evelyn Piazza and Rae Ann Gruver used their time in Brookings to tell people how hazing has impacted their lives.

They shared educated information with the crowd and issued a call to action to prevent hazing. Timothy Piazza died Feb. 4, 2017, at the former Theta Beta Pi House at Penn State due to head trauma from multiple falls. Since then, his parents, Jim and Evelyn Piazza have worked to raise awareness about the dangers of hazing.

They also passed the Timothy J. Piazza Law (State Senate Bill 1090), which creates a category in organizational and institutional hazing and makes them both punishable by law. Maxwell Gruver died weeks into the 2017 fall semester at LSU while pledging to Phi Delta Theta from acute alcohol poisoning and aspiration. The Gruvers created the Max Gruver Foundation and helped pass the MaxGruver Anti-Hazing Act.

This act makes hazing a felony in Louisiana. South Dakota is 1 of 6 states that does not have a law prohibiting hazing. To go about this, a person must go to their local legislature and present the bill. Next, the committee will research, discuss, and make changes to the bill. The bill is then put before the chamber for a vote.

“South Dakota should not wait until a hazing death occurs,” Gruver said. “South Dakota should be proactive and not reactive in creating a law to protect young adults in your state.”

This summer, SDSU Sigma Phi EpsilonPresident Blake Gibney met Gruver andPiazza at the Rich Leadership Institute where they presented “Love, Mom &Dad.” “Very few presentations that I have sat through made me feel emotional,” Gibney added that the presentation made him think of his brother, who is also college-aged. Gibney brought Gruver and Piazza to SDSU to spread awareness and give real-world examples of why hazing is so dangerous.