Jim Piazza, whose son Tim died in 2017 after a booze-fueled fraternity party at Pennsylvania State University, had a decision to make.
He could "declare war" on a Greek-life system that too often was being affected by excessive drinking and hazing, or he could try something else.
So the Lebanon, N.J., man called the North-American Interfraternity Conference, a coalition of 66 national fraternities.
"I think we need to talk," Piazza told its president.
On Monday morning, the Piazzas and three other couples who also lost children after alleged fraternity hazings joined the fraternity conference and the National Panhellenic Conference of 26 national sororities in announcing an unusual alliance.
Calling themselves the Anti-Hazing Coalition, they will push for model legislation in every state that includes tougher penalties for hazing, and will launch a campaign aimed at better educating college students as well as middle and high school students about hazing dangers.
"We decided it's better to work with them to make it better," Piazza said.
Parents and representatives of the Greek organizations were scheduled to appear on national television Monday morning to talk about the effort.
"We both want to see change. We both have the same goal," said Heather Kirk, chief communication officer for the fraternity conference. "We're just grateful and glad that the parents are working with us."
Piazza acknowledged that he has been critical of fraternities.
"But I think right now, they are on board with us," he said. "Our priority is … saving other kids from injury and death. It's therapeutic for us, and it's what Tim would want us to do."
Piazza and his wife, Evelyn, last week announced that they had reached a settlement with Beta Theta Pi, the fraternity their son had been pledging when he suffered his fatal injuries. The settlement included an undisclosed monetary payment and plans to make Greek life safer at the group's chapters nationally.
Kirk said fraternities have been working for decades to educate members about hazing.
But, she acknowledged, "the problem has continued, so we're looking for new avenues and new partnerships to continue to fight it."
The conference also this month announced that its members would institute a ban on hard liquor at fraternity facilities and events by September 2019, except when it is served by a licensed third-party vendor.
The move follows a year of high-profile fraternity hazing deaths, starting with Piazza's. The sophomore engineering major died after falling down a flight of stairs during a pledge night party that included a drinking gauntlet. Piazza languished on a couch for nearly 12 hours before anyone called for help; dozens of members were charged in connection with his death. Last fall, deaths followed at Florida State, Louisiana State, and Texas State Universities.
In February, a group of parents who lost children in connection with fraternities — including the Piazzas — announced they were forming a group, Parents United to Stop Hazing (PUSH), to combat the problem.
Not all parents in PUSH have signed on to the new effort. But joining the Piazzas are Rae Ann and Steve Gruver, whose son died at Louisiana State a year ago, Lianne and Brian Kowiak, who son died after a fraternity initiation at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina in 2008, and Rich and Maille Braham, whose son, a student at Penn State Altoona, committed suicide in 2014 after his parents said he was subjected to harsh fraternity hazing.
The group has nearly completed proposed legislation that the fraternity conference's powerful lobby will encourage states across the country to pass, as early as this fall. Increased penalties are the goal.
"In most of the states, we don't feel like the penalties are severe enough," said Kevin O'Neill, a lawyer and lobbyist who represents the coalition. "In instances of serious bodily harm, we are looking to seriously ramp up the time that you are liable to spend in jail."
The proposed legislation also will require better reporting of hazing acts and anti-hazing education.
Pennsylvania's Senate last spring passed a bill that would make hazing a felony in cases of serious bodily injury; it awaits consideration in the House.
The coalition, Kirk said, also will lobby for the passage of federal anti-hazing legislation that was put forth last year by former U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan and would require colleges to report hazing under the federal Clery campus crime reporting law and mandate that universities provide education on hazing to students annually.
Plans also call for fraternity and sorority members to go in to middle and high schools to teach about the dangers of hazing and for the parents who lost children to speak at large gatherings of Greek-life student leaders. That's already started, Kirk said, noting that the Piazzas, Gruvers, and Brahams addressed more than 500 members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity this summer.
The Piazzas also have been taking their message to college campuses. This month, they spoke to more than 200 Greek-life student leaders at Penn State.