President offers update on investigation, Greek reforms

Dear Ithaca Campus Community,

I am writing with an update on two issues that have been at the forefront of our attentions over the last number of weeks: the investigation into the death of Antonio Tsialas and the ongoing pattern of misconduct in the Greek-letter system.

First, the investigation into Antonio’s tragic death continues. It is being led by the Cornell University Police Department (CUPD) in close coordination with the Ithaca Police Department, New York State Police and the Tompkins County District Attorney. CUPD has followed more than 170 leads and has conducted numerous interviews but has not yet developed a complete picture of the circumstances surrounding Antonio’s death. I appreciate the information provided by those who have already come forward and continue to encourage anyone else who may have information to contact CUPD at 607-255-1111 or We will continue to provide resources to support the investigation through its conclusion; and be assured that we will continue to update you on the progress of the investigation.

Second, regarding Greek Life: as I noted in my Nov. 8 message, the investigation has revealed that a fraternity held an unregistered and unsupervised party, with alcohol served and freshmen (including Antonio) in attendance, the night that Antonio was last seen. Moreover, this same fraternity had just attended a judicial hearing the day before for additional misconduct. Consequently, the chapter has been placed on interim suspension pending the outcome of formal judicial proceedings.

While there are many important benefits to Greek Life at Cornell, there is also a continuing and disturbing pattern of activity that violates our policies and threatens the health and safety of our students. Indeed, in just the past 18 months, six Cornell Greek organizations have had conduct violations severe enough to warrant suspensions.

I greatly appreciate the social activity pause and other steps taken by the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council over the last few weeks to strengthen the internal policies of Cornell’s Greek-letter organizations. But these steps do not negate my responsibility to do all I can to enact thoughtful and meaningful approaches to protecting the health and safety of our students.

To that end, I will be announcing a set of additional reforms to Greek Life at Cornell before the end of the semester. We have heard from many students, faculty, staff, alumni and other stakeholders and are taking all of the input into account as we devise measures that will, first and foremost, emphasize our responsibility to provide a safe environment for students while also avoiding the demonization of organizations and acknowledging the value that they provide to their members.

Martha E. Pollack