January 29, 2020

EDITORIAL: Lawsuit Filed By Family of Deceased Freshman Antonio Tsialas ’23 Is a Call to Action

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If you see something, say something. If you hear something, say something.

According to The Sun’s reporting, the parents of Antonio Tsialas ’23 are suing Cornell University, the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and individuals.

Cornellians who know information — but are willingly hiding that information from law enforcement — are sinning against the parents, siblings and friends of Tsialas. Cease the all-too-Cornellian habit of selfishness.

This call extends to the University: Share the information of the death with the family of Tsialas. Cornell Police and the Office of Student and Campus Life both declared there was no foul play in the death of Tsialas on the day he was found; if this still holds, they have an obligation to share the information they have to a distressed community.

In the coming weeks, The Sun and every local media outlet will report on the details alleged in the lawsuit filed in Tompkins County Court on Tuesday afternoon. Our reporters will fixate on and highlight — and rightfully so — the tragic circumstances that caused this campus to lose a friend.

The lawsuit filed on Tuesday describes a fraternity party with dozens of students, copious drinking and horrifying behavior. The suit names seven undergraduate students specifically, detailing intimate facets of a “Christmas Party” hazing event.

It is important to take this moment now, before the whirlwind begins, to think about the culture that existed on this campus far before this heart-wrenching event in late October. The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and its members are a startling symptom of the toxic culture infused in our campus — one of “in groups” and “out groups,” heavy inferiority complexes and thirsts to prove ourselves. Above all else, complacency in wrongdoing has reared its ugly head.

But this problem is confined not only to the enumerated fraternity members — it manifests in the unnamed sorority women described complicit, in the fraternity members who allowed it to happen and to the scores before who silently bore through the hazing ritual. However this problem spreads most to the individuals who know the intimate details of that night and chose, or continue to choose, not to report that information.

This fraternity event is not the first hazing incident on this campus; it is not the first fatal hazing incident on this campus.

The leaders of this University have been actively addressing Greek Life reforms since Tsialas’ death, in passionate pursuit of a solution to a systemic problem. However, the deafening silence of the University on the details of this case — and their slothiness in defining the actual problem — make it difficult to embrace the structural changes they have been trying to make.

Speak up about systemic problems. Speak up about individual actions. Speak up about complacency. If no one’s talking, silence rules.


The above editorial reflects the opinions of The Cornell Daily Sun. Editorials are penned collaboratively between the Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor and Opinion Editor, in consultation with additional Sun editors and staffers. The Sun’s editorials are independent of its news coverage, other columnists and advertisers.