By, Mary Ann Georgantopoulos
May 29, 2015
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.”
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.