The Cornell Sun, one of the oldest and most credible news sources in Ithaca, published a story this morning about our firm’s fight to get answers from Cornell University about Antonio Tsialas’ death. It reports our recent court victory against Cornell, when Tompkins County Judge Gerald Keene ruled that our lawsuit against the university was allowed to proceed.
“The significance of this ruling cannot be overstated,” says Attorney Michael Levine. “If schools do not take meaningful steps to ensure that hazing is eradicated, they will be held accountable. The Court’s decision puts universities on notice that they can no longer simply sit back and blame hazing on their students.”
The story observes that Cornell has been uncooperative when it comes to sharing information about their investigation. “The most information the University gave on its Tsialas investigation was on Nov. 19, 2019, when [Cornell President Martha] Pollack said CUPD received over 170 leads on Tsialas’ case,” the report says.
“It Is Now Unclear Whether the CUPD Investigation Is Still Active”
Despite nearly 200 leads, the CUPD does not seem to have made any progress on its ‘open’ investigation into Antonio’s death. If they have, they haven’t shared it with Antonio’s parents.
Our struggle on behalf of Antonio’s family—starting our own investigation, followed by the lawsuit against Cornell—is rooted in the fact that Cornell has shared no information with Antonio’s grieving family.
“Number one goal was always to get information,” Attorney David Bianchi says in the article. Our firm filed suit in January against the college, Phi Kappa Psi, and seven students who played a role in the “dirty rush” event Antonio attended. Claims involving individual defendants have been resolved, but Cornell still refuses to offer any information about their investigation.
The Cornell Sun reports that the Ivy League institution declined to comment on the CUPD investigation, which may or may not be active.
Cornell’s Abdication of Responsibility
The Cornell Sun’s report also shines a light on the most egregious challenge to our lawsuit: Cornell University’s refusal to acknowledge their responsibility to keep students safe. In May, Cornell filed a motion to dismiss our suit by citing that it was not liable for student conduct or safety at private parties. Cornell filed a prior investigation into Phi Kappa Psi in their motion, but nothing from the Antonio Tsialas investigation.
Cornell’s argument flies in the face of legal precedent and the traditional duty of educational institutions. The fact remains that Cornell is responsible for disciplining Greek organizations—especially when a fraternity is headquartered in a home owned by the college. Their failure to sufficiently discipline and hold accountable the officers of Phi Kappa Psi led to Antonio’s death, and they need to be forced to acknowledge that fact. This isn’t just about justice for Antonio; it’s about ensuring that the hazing culture at Cornell changes forever.Read the Cornell Sun story and read our latest hazing blogs to learn more about this story.