Monthly Archives: May 2015

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Huffington Post – Women In Photos Won’t Press Charges In Penn State Frat Case, Police Say

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By, David DeKok

May 29, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 29 (Reuters) – None of the women in nude photographs posted on a Facebook page for a now-suspended Penn State fraternity is cooperating with investigators, police said on Friday, frustrating efforts to bring charges against the fraternity’s members.

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania State University suspended the school’s Kappa Delta Rho chapter for three years after discovering a private Facebook page that included photos of female students who were undressed, and in some cases, apparently unconscious or sleeping. The fraternity was also accused of hazing pledges and other objectionable conduct.

Prosecutors do not have a case against those responsible unless one of the victims is willing to go to court, Lieutenant Keith Robb of the State College Police Department told Reuters. Penn State is located in State College, Pennsylvania.

Robb would not say why the women declined to press charges, but said cooperating in a case can be difficult.

“You need courage to go to court,” Robb said. “It’s not uncommon for victims to be reluctant to press charges, especially when it’s embarrassing, when there are nude photos involved.”

Penn State is still recovering from a child sex scandal in which a former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was convicted in 2012 of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. The school’s once-revered head football coach, Joe Paterno, and other Penn State officials were accused of covering up the abuse to protect the school’s reputation.

Cases of racism, hazing, nude photos, vandalism and a death have rocked many U.S. college fraternities in recent months, including a University of Oklahoma chapter that was closed after a video surfaced in which students chanted about lynchings.

The Penn State fraternity brothers could face charges of invasion of privacy or harassment, Robb said. He added the statute of limitations on the alleged offenses runs until January 2017, two years after the Facebook page was reported to police.

Members of the suspended fraternity chapter have also declined to provide much cooperation, Robb said.

A spokeswoman for Penn State, Lisa Powers, said the university has on several occasions urged students to cooperate with the police investigation.

Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, three months earlier was hit by a similar scandal, when a whistleblower revealed misogynistic jokes and messages posted on a private Facebook group by male dentistry students. The posts prompted a national outcry in Canada but there were no criminal prosecutions. (Editing By Frank McGurty and Lisa Lambert)

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WUSA9 – Penn State frat suspended for 3 years after nude pics

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May 29, 2015 WASHINGTON (WUSA9) — The Penn State fraternity, Kappa Delta Rho, was suspended for three years following an investigation. They made national headlines in March, when they were accused of posting graphic images of women on a private Facebook page.

A university investigation found some of the fraternity’s members had engaged in sexual harassment creating a “persistent climate of humiliation for several females.”

Police continue to investigate the case and told Centre Daily Times on Thursday that they were still trying to identify one woman who appeared nude and apparently unconscious in some photos. They hope she will contact police.

State College Lt. Keith Robb said other women who have been identified were given options regarding pressing charges of harassment and invasion of privacy, but none have rendered a decision yet. A man in some photographs has also been identified and could choose to press charges.

The investigation started in January when former Kappa Delta Rho member James Vivenzio of Great Falls, Va. shared information about the secret Facebook pages with police. Thursday, Vivenzio released a statement through his attorney, which reads”

“I am pleased that Penn State is finally taking seriously the documented allegations of hazing and other misconduct at KDR that I first brought to the attention of (u)niversity officials and then to the attention of local police. Suspending KDR now is only a small step toward what needs to be done to stop the blatantly abusive practices at KDR that I experienced firsthand, and at other fraternities,” Vivenzio said.

“I am committed as one individual, who has been supported by many others, to bringing about positive and permanent change to eliminate hazing and sexual harassment. Penn State can and must do much more to stop hazing and sexual harassment and should commit to lead by example.”

Vivenzo’s parents released a statement to our news partners at the Washington Post earlier, saying, “Our son did the right thing here and voluntarily reported abhorrent and dangerous criminal activity to the authorities.”

The Washington Post and OnwardState.com note that he no longer attends the school and that he’s had run-ins with police in Fairfax County, Va. and at Penn State in recent years. Vivenzio’s family said the charges in Fairfax County were dropped and that he was charged with a driving infraction. The Charges from the State College Police Department were still pending when Vivenzio went to police with information on the private KDR Facebook page, reports Onward State.

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Buzzfeed.com – Penn State Fraternity Shut Down After Nude Photos Posted On Facebook

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By, Mary Ann Georgantopoulos

May 29, 2015

The Penn State University Kappa Delta Rho fraternity house in State College, Pennsylvania. Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Kappa Delta Rho fraternity lost recognition at Penn State University for three years after an investigation found “a persistent series of deeply troubling activities.”

The fraternity was suspended in May after members were accused of taking photosof nude women — who were sleeping or unconscious — and posting them online.

Members of the fraternity also posted pictures of drug sales and hazing on the two private Facebook pages, which had about 144 members, including current students and alumni.

“We base this decision on the sum of misbehaviors exhibited by various members of Kappa Delta Rho. Not every member of the chapter was equally culpable for violation of the university’s expectations for recognized student organizations,” Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs, said in a letter to the Interfraternity Council. “Even so, the sum of the organizational misbehaviors is far more than the university can tolerate from a student organization that seeks its imprimatur.”

The investigation found instances of hazing, including incidents in which fraternity members forced pledges to “plank with bottle caps on their elbows,” run errands, and clean the fraternity house. The university also found two instances of sexual harassment, in addition to members posting “embarrassing photos of women,” which “cultivated a persistent climate of humiliation for several females.”

The private Facebook pages came to light after a former member of the fraternity informed State College police. A criminal investigation remains ongoing. The university also said it will handle any cases of individual members who have been found in violation of Penn State’s student code of conduct.

“The investigative report makes clear that some members of the KDR chapter promoted a culture of harassing behavior and degradation of women,” Sims said in a statement. “These are not acceptable actions within a student organization that is recognized and supported by Penn State. 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 issued a statement Wednesday saying, “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.”

He went on to say that the national chapter has initiated disciplinary proceedings against members accused of any wrongdoing.

“We respect the university’s decision and look forward to working with the university to effectuate improvements in the Greek system on campus,” Rosenberg said. “KDR will endeavor to take any actions necessary to have our chapter retain recognition after the three year period has concluded.”

UPDATE

The whistleblower, James Vivenzio, who first alerted State College police about the secret Facebook pages, issued a statement through his lawyer, Aaron J. Freiwald.

I am pleased that Penn State is finally taking seriously the documented allegations of hazing and other misconduct at KDR that I first brought to the attention of University officials and then to the attention of the local police. Suspending KDR now is only a small step toward what needs to be done to stop the blatantly abusive practices at KDR that I experienced first hand, and at other fraternities.I am committed as one individual, who has been supported by many others, to bringing about positive and permanent change to eliminate hazing and sexual harassment. Penn State can and must do much more to stop hazing and sexual harassment and should commit to lead by example.

Click Here to Link to Actual Article or Click Here to Download .pdf


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STATEMENT OF JAMES VIVENZIO REGARDING PENN STATE THREE-YEAR SUSPENSION OF KAPPA DELTA RHO

FreiwaldLaw logo

Philadelphia, PA (May 28, 2015) – The following authorized statement of James Vivenzio is being issued by his attorney, Aaron J. Freiwald, Freiwald Law, P.C., on behalf of Mr. Vivenzio in response to media inquiries:

I am pleased that Penn State is finally taking seriously the documented allegations of hazing and other misconduct at KDR that I first brought to the attention of University officials and then to the attention of the local

police. Suspending KDR now is only a small step toward what needs to be done to stop the blatantly abusive practices at KDR that I experienced first hand, and at other fraternities. I am committed as one individual, who has been supported by many others, to bringing about positive and permanent change to eliminate hazing and sexual harassment. Penn State can and must do much more to stop hazing and sexual harassment and should commit to lead by example.

Mr. Vivenzio has no further comment on this matter at this time.

Contact: Aaron J. Freiwald, Esq. / Freiwald Law, P.C.

ajf@freiwaldlaw.com 215.875.8000 267.432.1016


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Centre Daily Times – Kappa Delta Rho investigation continues; whistleblower makes statement

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By Clayton Over cover@centredaily.com

May 28, 2015

A few days after Penn State decided to suspend the local Kappa Delta Rho chapter for three years, State College police said their investigation into a Facebook page that featured inappropriate photos is still ongoing.

Police said they are trying to identify one woman who appeared nude and apparently unconscious in some of the pictures.

“We’re hoping that she’ll come forward or someone will cooperate to tell us who she is,” State College Lt. Keith Robb said.

Other women who have stepped forward or been identified have been given their options as far as pressing charges of harassment and invasion of privacy, but none have rendered a decision yet, Robb said.

Robb also said that a man appearing in photographs on the page has also been identified and could also choose to press charges. There is a two-year statute of limitations on the crimes, meaning charges could be filed as late as 2017.

Police have also talked to fraternity brothers during the course of the investigation, Robb said.

The investigation started in January when former KDR member James Vivenzio came to police and shared information about the secret Facebook pages.

On Thursday, Vivenzio released his first statement on the matter through his attorney, Aaron Freiwald.

“I am pleased that Penn State is finally taking seriously the documented allegations of hazing and other misconduct at KDR that I first brought to the attention of (u)niversity officials and then to the attention of local police. Suspending KDR now is only a small step toward what needs to be done to stop the blatantly abusive practices at KDR that I experienced firsthand, and at other fraternities,” Vivenzio said.

“I am committed as one individual, who has been supported by many others, to bringing about positive and permanent change to eliminate hazing and sexual harassment. Penn State can and must do much more to stop hazing and sexual harassment and should commit to lead by example,” he said.

Click Here for Link to Actual Article or Click Here for Link to .pdf


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The New York Times – Penn State, Finding Harassment and Hazing, Suspends Recognition of a Fraternity

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May 27, 2015

Pennsylvania State University has withdrawn recognition of a fraternity chapter whose members used a secret Facebook page to post images of drugs, under-age drinking, hazing and nude, unconscious women.

The punishment of the Kappa Delta Rho chapter on the University Park campus, where more than half of the school’s undergraduates take courses, will last for three years.

Damon Sims, vice president for student affairs at Penn State, said late Tuesday that officials had decided on the punishment after an investigation by the university found “a persistent series of deeply troubling activities within the fraternity,” including sexual harassment of several women, hazing that included boxing matches, and the sale and use of drugs.

Not all of the chapter’s members were equally culpable, Mr. Sims said, and many were only observers. “Even so,” he said, “the sum of the organizational misbehaviors is far more than the university can tolerate from a student organization that seeks its imprimatur.”

Officials learned of the Facebook page in January when a former fraternity member went to the police to report possible misconduct. Penn State said its investigation had found that members hazed pledges, forcing them to run errands and clean the fraternity house. Pledges were also forced to hold their bodies in a rigid horizontal position using only their arms in a move called planking, but with a painful twist — bottle caps were placed underneath their elbows.

In addition, pledges were required to make stories with pornographic images and “a sex position of the day.” Members regularly posted embarrassing photographs of women in “extremely compromising” positions and used demeaning language to describe them, the university said.

Two women, both students, were subjected to persistent harassment. Officials said they were degraded through multiple postings on the organization’s private website over an extended period. “The investigative report makes clear that some members of the K.D.R. chapter promoted a culture of harassing behavior and degradation of women,” Mr. Sims said.

Mr. Sims announced the university’s decision in a letter to the vice presidents of the Interfraternity Council, a body that governs Greek-letter organizations at Penn State but is separate from the university.

The council recommended that Kappa Delta Rho be allowed to keep its designation as a campus organization, so long as it agreed to measures to “change the culture” of the fraternity. Those measures included a comprehensive education program for new members, and participation in sensitivity training on sexual assaults and bystander intervention training.

University officials typically defer to the council on matters related to recognition, but felt compelled to make a stronger response in this case. “We cannot both sustain recognition for this group, even if various stipulations are imposed in exchange for that allowance, and still make the case that such behaviors fall well short of our community’s expectations,” Mr. Sims said.

The decision was not made lightly, he said. The university’s action in this case “should not be seen as a retreat” from its commitment to student involvement in institutional decisions, he added.

The national executive director of Kappa Delta Rho, Joseph Rosenberg, said that the fraternity had reviewed the report and that any members involved could face expulsion.

He noted that the report did not accuse any fraternity members of sexual assault, and said, “We respect the university’s decision and look forward to working with the university.”

The fraternity has made several changes, including increasing education for members on issues of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and alcohol and drug abuse. Mr. Rosenberg said it had also arranged to join a consortium of organizations that maintain a hotline for reporting hazing.

The fraternity “is an organization characterized by devotion to respect for others,” he said. “As our Penn State chapter proceeds as a part of the university community, we will continue to require that each of our members honors that principle in all respects at all times.”

The fraternity can ask Penn State to recolonize the chapter after three years, a university spokeswoman said, according to The Associated Press. That would prompt a review, and the university could set conditions on restarting it, she said.

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Penn State Fraternity That Got In Trouble For Taking Nude Photos Of Passed-Out Chicks Got The Lamest Punishment Ever

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By, Rebecca Martinson

May, 27, 2015

You all remember Kappa Delta Rho, right? They were the Penn State fraternity that recently got in trouble for having a “secret” Facebook page where they uploaded photos of passed-out naked chicks and then…jerked off to them, I guess? That’s my best guess. What else would you do with an entire page full of unconscious naked women? Obviously not report it to authorities. Oh no, don’t be silly! You keep that spank bank under wraps like the horrid little douchebag you are and then do your best to peep at it while sitting in the back of lecture so no one else sees what you’re doing.

Or at least that’s what they used to do until they got caught. Bummer. And now as “punishment,” KDR will lose its official campus recognition until 2018. What does that mean for KDR, you ask?

Nothing.

No really, it means nothing. Basically it means that they can’t participate in official Penn State Greek life activities like homecoming, but they get to keep their chapter house since it’s privately owned. This means they still get to throw parties, go on away weekends, and basically do all the fraternity shit they were doing before but without any restrictions imposed by the university. So whereas other fraternities recognized by Penn State are required to have their rush process last no longer than, say, 5 weeks, KDR can have their rush last 5 months.

The major downside to not being recognized by campus/nationals is that anyone initiated into KDR doesn’t count as a real KDR, meaning their name doesn’t get included in the national roster of members. If you’re like many college kids though, you join a frat for parties and chicks, not for networking, which was my main reason for joining (English major struggles).

In other words, KDR can basically do whatever they want (within legal reason) without the University bitching at them for the next 3 years since they’re not a “real” frat anymore. Most fraternities gradually dissipate over time when a university kicks them off campus since not having a chapter house is a major part of the rush process (it’s a matter of visibility: are you more likely to join the frat with a house, or the one that only has a name?), but since KDR gets to keep theirs…this punishment is pointless.

[Note: this is how off-campus (aka “underground”) fraternities worked at U Maryland, at least. Maybe it’s different at Penn State…but probably not.]

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The Washington Post – Penn State suspends Kappa Delta Rho fraternity for 3 years following findings of hazing and sexual harassment

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By Lindsey Bever

May 27, 2015

Penn State University has shut down a fraternity chapter for what it calls “a persistent series of deeply troubling activities within the fraternity,” including hazing, underage drinking and drug use, and sexual harassment.

The university said Tuesday that Kappa Delta Rho has been suspended for three years, overriding Penn State’s Interfraternity Council, which called for a less severe punishment. Among numerous allegations, members have been accused of posting photos of nude women — who appear unconscious — on a private Facebook page.

“We base this decision on the sum of misbehavior exhibited by various members of Kappa Delta Rho,” Vice President of Student Affairs Damon Sims wrote in aletter to the council. “The sum of the organizational misbehavior is far more than the university can tolerate from a student organization that seeks its imprimatur,” he also said in the letter.

[‘Everybody fools around,’ Penn State frat member says of lewd Facebook group]

Earlier this year, a former fraternity member reported private Facebook pages, which contained photos showing women in “extremely compromising positions,”according to Sims. An investigation by the university revealed members allegedly had been posting embarrassing photos and using demeaning language to describe women, according to the Associated Press. They allegedly had been harassing two female students, “who were degraded through multiple postings,” Sims said.

In a document obtained by the Huffington Post, the council said Kappa Delta Rho members “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.” In a statement released Tuesday, Sims also said pledges “were made to create stories using pornographic images and a ‘sex position of the day.’”

On Tuesday, Kappa Delta Rho’s national executive director, Joseph Rosenberg, said the university’s report did not find any member had committed sexual assault.

Members were also accused of hazing, including instances in which pledges were forced to run errands, clean the fraternity house, box each other or plank “with bottle caps on their elbows,” meaning they had to bear their body weight on their arms with bottle caps under their elbows, the university explained in a statement.

[The fraternity, the nude pictures and the limits of the satire defense]

Alleged underage drinking, and using and selling drugs were also part of the reason for the university’s decision, Sims said in the statement.

“The investigative report makes clear that some members of the KDR chapter promoted a culture of harassing behavior and degradation of women,” Sims said in the statement. “These are not acceptable actions within a student organization that is recognized and supported by Penn State. We must respond accordingly, and we hope by doing so it is clearly understood that our university will not tolerate such actions.”

The university has declined to release its report to the public, according to the Associated Press.

Click Here to Link to Actual Article or Click Here to Download .pdf


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Philly.com – Penn State shuts down fraternity Kappa Delta Rho

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Philly.com

By, Susan Snyder

May 26, 2015

Pennsylvania State University will shut down for three years the fraternity facing allegations that members posted pictures of nude and partially nude women – some who appeared to be sleeping or passed out – on private Facebook pages, the school announced Tuesday.

President Eric Barron said the university decided against a recommendation from the student-led Interfraternity Council – the body that governs Greek life on campus – for less severe sanctions against Kappa Delta Rho, which already was targeted for reorganization by its national office after the allegations emerged in March.

The university, which has completed its investigation, found evidence of hazing, the use and sale of drugs, underage drinking, sexual misconduct and harassment and “exploitation in terms of photographs,” Barron said. More specifically, the university said Tuesday night, the investigation uncovered persistent harassment of two females, and “photographing individuals in extremely compromising positions and posting these photos” online.

Pledges were required to create stories with pornographic images and a “sex position of the day,” according to the university’s investigation, which cited a fraternity environment that was degrading and disrespectful toward women.

MORE COVERAGE

Frat’s national office responds to suspension 

“Members regularly posted embarrassing photos of women,” the university said, “used demeaning language to describe females; and cultivated a persistent climate of humiliation for several females.”

The findings drew harsh criticism from Damon Sims, Penn State’s vice president for student affairs.

“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.”

While some offenses seemed relatively minor – such as forcing junior members to clean the fraternity house — the “sum total” of violations convinced university leaders to take a tough stance, Barron said.

“This is not a fraternity that’s operating in an appropriate way,” Barron said. “We’re making a very strong statement about sexual harassment and sexual assault. So I’m not going to go back on that stance that we’re taking.”

The university’s investigation found that some frat members engaged in hazing, such as forcing pledges to run errands, clean the fraternity house, and participate in boxing matches. Pledges also were forced “to plank with bottle caps on their elbows,” meaning they had to hold up the weight of their bodies on their arms with bottle caps underneath, the university found.

State police began investigating the fraternity in January after a former member reported the invitation-only Facebook pages to police. The status of the police investigation was not available Tuesday night.

The incident prompted the university to launch a review of its Greek system, and that review is ongoing.

The university’s announcement came just hours after the Kappa Delta Rho’s national office put out the statement from the interfraternity council on its recommendations and proposed sanctions, as well as a statement of its own.
The national office promised to kick out any members who were found to have violated hazing, drinking or other policies. Joseph S. Rosenberg, executive director of the Kappa Delta Rho National Fraternity office declined to speculate on how many of the 100 or so members could have lost their status, noting that members would have had to undergo a drug test, review of their academic standing and determination on whether they violated policies.

All remaining members would have been required to undergo sensitivity training on sexual assault and harassment and “bystander intervention” in the beginning of the fall semester under the actions proposed by the interfraternity council.

The national chapter also promised to develop a “new member education program,” subject to approval by the council and the university before fall 2016, and appoint a “local chapter advisory board” to oversee the chapter. No recruiting of new members would have been allowed next fall.

“We are hopeful that they agree the sanctions that we imposed as a National is seen as educational and sufficient enough for the students to learn from this experience,” Rosenberg said before learning of the university’s decision to shut the frat down.

He could not be reached after the university announced its sanctions.

Rosenberg in his statement noted that the office of student conduct report does not allege that any member committed sexual assault. The university did not release the full report.

University officials acknowledged that it was difficult to overrule its interfraternity council.

“Our commitment to student involvement in institutional decision-making remains important to us,” Sims said in a letter to the council, “and our action in this case should not be seen as a retreat from that commitment.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/campus_inq/Penn-State-shuts-down-fraternity.html#k7RuAuf03oILsydc.99

Click here to link to actual article or Click here to download .pdf


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Huffington Post – Penn State Boots Frat For Nude Facebook Photos Promoting ‘Degradation Of Women’

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By, Tyler Kingkade

May 26, 2015

Penn State University on Tuesday booted the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity from campus for at least three years after an investigation into the distribution of nude photos of unconscious women, hazing and harassment.

School administrators overruled the student-led Interfraternity Council and imposed the suspension after finding evidence fraternity brothers used drugs, tolerated hazing of new members, posted humiliating photos of members and non-members, shared pornographic pictures of women, and used “demeaning language to describe females.”

“The investigative report makes clear that some members of the KDR chapter promoted a culture of harassing behavior and degradation of women,” Damon Sims, vice president for student affairs, said in a statement. “These are not acceptable actions within a student organization that is recognized and supported by Penn State. We must respond accordingly, and we hope by doing so it is clearly understood that our University will not tolerate such actions.”

The frat initially came under scrutiny after a brother tipped police in January to two private Facebook pages, where members for more than a year discussed drug sales and sexual conquests, shared photos of strippers and passed-out naked women, and chatted about hazing. The university’s investigation confirmed members of the fraternity were aware of the Facebook accounts, and uncovered more bad behavior that included public harassment of members and non-members.

State College Police Lt. Keith Robb told HuffPost on Tuesday that the investigation of the Facebook pages remains unfinished.

The university announced its decision after the KDR national office erroneously said its Penn State chapter would not be removed from campus on the Intrafraternity Council’s recommendation. The council had recommended allowing the frat to remain on campus with educational programs and new local advisory board members.

The council said in a May 13 document that brothers “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 university said Tuesday that its probe found that pledges were forced into boxing matches, and had to “plank with bottle caps on their elbows,” pressing the caps into their skin with their body weight. “Pledges also were made to create stories containing pornographic images and a ‘sex position of the day’; members regularly posted embarrassing photos of women; used demeaning language to describe females; and cultivated a persistent climate of humiliation for several females,” Penn State said.

KDR’s national office said in March that it would expel misbehaving members, implement new education programs and join a consortium of national organizations that maintain a hazing hotline.

On Wednesday morning, KDR National Executive Director Joseph Rosenberg issued a statement saying the national office respects the university’s decision. He did not explain why his office had initially said, the day before, that the fraternity would not be removed from campus.

“We agree completely that the conduct described in the statement is unacceptable,” Rosenberg said. “As stated in the Report of the Inter Fraternity Council, 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.”

Read the May 13 letter from the Penn State IFC to Kappa Delta Rho:

KDR IFC Executive Board Decision Letter-2

Click Here to Link to Actual Article or Click Here to Download .pdf


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