This morning, the Ithaca Times published a report of our work on behalf of the Tsialas family to uncover the cause of their son’s death at Cornell University last October. Antonio Tsialas, a young man from Miami, was enjoying his first semester at his dream school when his parents decided to visit. Tragically, the weekend that his parents were in Ithaca to visit, Antonio went missing.
Within a day, his body was found at the bottom of a gorge near the Cornell campus. Antonio had been at a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity party earlier that evening, where multiple individuals saw him. His body was found with all his belongings except his phone; it was later revealed that a fraternity officer called Antonio’s dorm earlier that evening, demanding that Antonio’s presence at the party be kept a secret.
Conducting an Independent Investigation
The Ithaca Times story highlights our firm’s independent efforts to uncover what happened that night between Antonio arriving at the party and his death. The report mentions that we’ve hired four private investigators to interview potential witnesses and other people at the party that night. The story also reports on the $10,000 reward the Tsialas family is offering for any information that sheds light on what happened to their son.
“We have developed information about what took place inside the fraternity house that night,” Bianchi said. “I’m not in a position to share that information, but I will be shortly.”
Increased Scrutiny on Cornell’s Policies
The Ithaca Times also reported how Antonio Tsialas’ death has compelled the university to re-examine its hazing prevention policies. Cornell University has had a long and troubled history with fraternity and sorority hazing and Cornell President Martha Pollack, who has disclosed that there was “significant misbehavior” at the Phi Kappa Psi party where Antonio was last seen, has candidly acknowledge the school’s ongoing problems.
President Pollack’s newest reforms aimed at finally stopping the hazing issues include requiring third-party vendors for alcohol service, hiring security for large events, hiring independent event monitors, and submission to random spot-checks by a university-staffed security team. Pollack also enacted new regulations that seek to change the way Greek organizations recruit, shifting recruitment away from party culture toward service events and philanthropy. She also announced that alcohol would not be allowed at any formal or informal recruitment (like the party Antonio attended) and such events would have to have a curfew of 8 PM.
Attorney David Bianchi is quoted in today’s front page story that these newest efforts “miss the mark.” “There are already regulations and laws in place that should have prevented the events of that night, but they didn’t,” Bianchi said. “That’s because the laws and the regulations are not being properly enforced. It’s an enforcement issue, it’s not a lack of regulations or laws.” The report noted that neither the Tsialas family nor Mr. Bianchi were consulted on the new reforms.
The Ithaca Times article went on to quote Mr. Bianchi regarding what he believes needs to be done to stop the hazing epidemic at Cornell. “I guarantee you, if you had a new policy at Cornell that said ‘Any fraternity or sorority officer who plans or participates in a hazing event will be immediately expelled from Cornell,’ you would stop it instantly,” he said to the Ithaca Times. “That’s what they need to do, but so far they aren’t doing it.”
The article ends with a pertinent quote from Mr. Bianchi:
“We don’t need to eliminate the Greek system. We simply need to weed out the rotten apples.”