National leaders of Kappa Delta Rho responded Wednesday to Penn State officials’ decision to suspend its chapter on campus there, saying that they respected the university’s decision and would work to improve fraternity life and ensure reinstatement of the chapter after the three-year suspension has concluded.
In announcing the suspension, Penn State’s vice president of student affairs Damon Sims concluded there had been “a persistent series of deeply troubling activities within the fraternity,” including drug use, hazing, underage drinking, and sexual harassment. The scandal began after a former member of the fraternity went to police to report photos posted on a private Facebook page of naked women, some of whom appeared to be unconscious, some in, in Sims’ words, “extremely compromising positions.”
The school officials’ decision overturned an earlier conclusion by the school’s Interfraternity Council, a student-led group which oversees Greek life on campus.
The IFC had concluded that members of the chapter collectively:
1) were aware of the existence and use of two private Facebook pages where highly inappropriate photographs and messages were posted;
2) were aware that occupants of the chapter house used drugs in their rooms;
3) were aware that the chapter’s new members (pledges) were hazed during their new member education period;
4) were aware of the expectation that the new members publish, on a regular basis, a document titled “Stall Stories” where active members and, in some instances, unaffiliated students were harassed and degraded in flyers left in public view throughout the chapter house.”
The council recommended several steps, including a swift review of existing members to determine if they could remain in the chapter, mandatory education for those allowed to stay, continued suspension of recruitment activities in the fall.
But Sims wrote, “The investigative report makes clear that some members of the KDR chapter promoted a culture of harassing behavior and degradation of women. These are not acceptable actions within a student organization that is recognized and supported by Penn State,” Sims said. “We must respond accordingly, and we hope by doing so it is clearly understood that our University will not tolerate such actions.”
Joseph Rosenberg, national executive director of Kappa Delta Rho, said in a statement Wednesday that, “We agree completely that the conduct described in the statement is unacceptable. As stated in the Report of the Inter Fraternity Council (IFC), only a few of our members were accused of such misconduct.
“As we outlined previously, we have initiated disciplinary proceedings against members accused of any wrongdoing, and have established educational programs and other measures, such as a hazing hotline, to address and prevent future misconduct.
“We share the university’s positive assessment of the Inter Fraternity Council (IFC) procedure, which resulted in a recommendation that our chapter continue on campus. The university administration rightfully commends the IFC review as an example of thoughtful due process.
“We respect the university’s decision and look forward to working with the university to effectuate improvements in the Greek system on campus. KDR will endeavor to take any actions necessary to have our chapter retain recognition after the three year period has concluded.”