Penn State Phi Gamma Delta chapter put on probation following death
By Jennifer Reeger
Published: Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009,
The Penn State fraternity house where a Unity man was last seen alive has been suspended by a campus governing board while its international headquarters has banned alcohol.
Phi Gamma Delta, also known as Fiji, was the last place where freshman Joseph Dado, 18, of Unity was seen before he plunged 17 feet to his death early Sunday morning.
Dado, a 2009 Greater Latrobe High School graduate, had left the house alone around 3 a.m. Sunday after visiting it and another fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega.
Penn State's Interfraternity Council, the governing board for the campus' 49 fraternities, decided at a meeting Tuesday night to place Phi Gamma Delta on probation at least until university police complete their investigation.
The fraternity will not be able to host any social events or vote in council matters during the probation but will be allowed to accept new members, said Bill Read, executive vice president of the Interfraternity Council.
Read said the decision was based on the possibility that someone at the fraternity furnished alcohol to Dado, a minor.
In addition, Phi Gamma Delta International, based in Lexington, Ky., announced Wednesday that the Penn State chapter house will be alcohol-free at least until the conclusion of the investigation into Dado's death.
Bill Martin, executive director of the fraternity, said the action is not being taken to punish the Penn State chapter but is a "sensible precaution typically taken in such circumstances."
"Where there's a possibility that alcohol is involved in a matter, we believe it is prudent to remove alcohol for a period until all the facts are there," Martin said.
An official at Alpha Tau Omega, another fraternity Dado visited, has said there was no social event taking place at that house when Dado took a brief tour and there was no indication he had been drinking there the night of his death.
Dado was reported missing Sunday after he didn't return to his residence hall room and failed to answer phone calls or e-mails from family and friends, leading to a campus-wide search with dogs and a helicopter. His body was found by maintenance workers Monday evening.
Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers has ruled Dado's death an accident. Dado had climbed onto a wall to access a roof that connected two campus buildings. He fell 17 feet into a stairwell below.
University spokesman Geoff Rushton said police continue to investigate the places Dado may have visited before he died, including the two fraternities.
"As that police investigation goes on and depending on what it turns up, then the university will determine what further action needs to be taken through our judicial process," Rushton said. "During the first part of the investigation, there were suggestions that alcohol may have been involved, but there's no firm evidence as to what he may or may not have consumed or in what amount."
That evidence will come through toxicology tests, the results of which won't be available for several weeks.
In the meantime, the Interfraternity Council has asked Penn State fraternities to refrain from holding social events until Oct. 2, which marks the end of the member recruitment period.
"This is simply a request as a tribute to honor Joe Dado and also as a time for Greek life to reflect on alcohol consumption and what it can lead to," Read said. "I've already heard from many fraternities that they are going to be honoring our request."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.