Rae Ann Gruver and Jim and Evelyn Piazza joined us at Conclave on Thursday morning for a moving presentation on the destruction caused by fraternity hazing. These three are the parents of sons — Tim Piazza and Max Gruver — who tragically died in 2017 due to hazing by their fraternity brothers.
“I like to play golf, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been standing over the ball — and I think of Tim. Everything in our lives have changed,” said Jim Piazza.
The parents are using their grief to fuel a fight for change. The presentation was full of examples and best practices to prevent hazing, and the impact of the session was magnified by the personal experiences of those speaking.
Gruver and the Piazzas issued a call for leadership in the fraternity world and higher education that cannot be ignored. “Part of the beauty of Greek life is that you get to choose your brother. You should be looking out for your Greek brother like you would your own blood brother,” Evelyn Piazza said. “Take care of each other, putting their safety and wellbeing above all else.”
The question and answer time, moderated by Grand Secretary Billy Maddalon, North Carolina State ’90, led to some insightful discussion from those in the audience about how SigEp chapters can learn from their message.
“Where in brotherly love and virtue and diligence does hazing fit in?” asked Gruver. “In your Balanced Man Program, you are being accountable. You are living your Ritual. You are a non-pledging, non-hazing fraternity. So you say it — that means you need to do it.’
The presence and story these parents share are a powerful and much-needed message for SigEp and our peers in the Greek community. They have spoken at each of the last two Ruck Leadership Institutes, and numerous SigEps around the county have brought them to share their stories with their campuses, including Louisville and UMass. If you are interested in hosting this presentation at your school, please visit sigep.org/fighthazing.