HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A fraternity linked to a secret Facebook page on which photos of nude and semi-nude women were posted was shut down by Penn State for at least three years on Tuesday after the university’s Interfraternity Council recommended a milder punishment.
Penn State said its investigation found some Kappa Delta Rho members had engaged in sexual harassment, hazing that included boxing matches and a “persistent climate of humiliation for several females.”
The university’s vice president for student affairs, Damon Sims, said not all frat members were equally culpable.
“Even so, the sum of the organizational misbehaviors is far more than the university can tolerate from a student organization that seeks its imprimatur,” Sims said.
The university canceled the fraternity’s recognition as a campus organization as of Tuesday, a status that will remain until May 2018.
A phone message left at the State College chapter house wasn’t returned. An email sent to chapter president Tom Friel’s university account also wasn’t returned. A phone number for the president of the chapter’s alumni corporation rang several times before the line went dead.
Penn State said it found members had forced pledges to run errands, clean the house, participate in boxing matches and maintain a painful posture similar to a pushup position, called a plank, with bottle caps under their elbows. Pledges also produced stories with pornographic images and what was described as a sex position of the day. The university said underage drinking and drug sales and use also were problems.
Two women, the university said, were subject to persistent harassment.
“The investigative report makes clear that some members of the KDR chapter promoted a culture of harassing behavior and degradation of women,” Sims said.
Sims told the Interfraternity Council’s standards vice presidents in a letter Tuesday the university was overriding its recommendation Kappa Delta Rho remain active but engage in a process of change and heightened accountability.
In a May 13 letter to Kappa Delta Rho’s chapter president, two Interfraternity Council standards vice presidents said Penn State’s investigative report, which the university declined to make public, said members of the chapter were aware of and used two private Facebook pages “where highly inappropriate photographs and messages were posted.”
The letter also said members “collectively” knew of hazing, drug use and students being “degraded in flyers left in public view throughout the chapter house.”
Earlier Tuesday, the fraternity’s national executive director said the university’s report didn’t allege any member of the chapter had committed sexual assault. The executive director, Joseph Rosenberg, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.
The matter became public after State College police said in a search warrant they were looking into a Facebook page where, a former member told them, members shared photos of drug sales, hazing and unsuspecting victims, some of whom appeared to be asleep or passed out. The department hasn’t released the results of its investigation.
The fraternity’s national leadership can ask Penn State to recolonize the chapter after three years, a university spokeswoman said. That would trigger a review, and the university could set conditions on starting it back up, she said.