Nude fraternity photo posts draw student protests at Penn State U
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — More than 100 Penn State University students and other supporters demonstrated Friday against a fraternity accused of posting photos of nude or partly nude women, some asleep or passed out, on an invitation-only Facebook page, urging the administration to take stronger action against those involved.
The protest took place during a snowstorm in front of the main administration building. About 100 miles away, a university official told trustees at a board meeting that the scandal provided fresh evidence that more needs to be done about sexual misconduct on campus.
Protest organizers asked the university to put Kappa Delta Rho members involved with the Facebook page on interim suspension. They also want the school to sever ties with the now-suspended fraternity chapter.
Student Peri Kahraman of Columbus, Ohio, said women cannot feel safe at fraternities and that she took part in the rally to help change that culture.
“I’m here because this is a problem at Penn State, this is a problem in this country,” she said.
A sign made out of a bed sheet read, “Rape culture lives there.”
A cardboard sign read, “Boys will be boys,” with the second “boys” crossed out and followed by, “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Student Ryan Adam Myers, a resident assistant from State College, said he found it disturbing that some fraternity members feel “such privilege and such entitlement.”
He said what he found most offensive was that some students “thought it was acceptable to treat another human being with disrespect.”
“The fact that they’re remaining part of the community right now is ridiculous,” he said.
The State College chapter of Kappa Delta Rho has been suspended for a year by its national organization while a review is underway. A student newspaper reported that the words “Tear It Down” were spray-painted on a brick wall outside the fraternity. A police official confirmed that KDR had reported an act of criminal mischief but didn’t have details.
According to police, the Facebook page operated at the fraternity had 144 active members, including students and alumni. The fraternity’s members and leaders in State College have not made any public comments on the scandal.
Penn State President Eric Barron has said the university is working with the fraternity’s national leadership to see if it will continue having a presence on campus, and may also review the entire fraternity system, where he said hazing, excessive drinking and sexual misconduct have been issues.
Penn State is also aiding the investigation by police, who have said at least two of the photos uncovered could result in criminal charges.
The rally Friday was organized by Josie Rose, a 37-year-old Penn State graduate and English teacher from Philipsburg, and Penn State journalism student Lauren Lewis, 20, of Tyrone. They planned to give the administration a letter spelling out their request for sanctions, which they read during the protest.
The university’s vice president for student affairs, Damon Simons, told trustees meeting in Hershey that the allegations against the fraternity show the school needs to do more to address sexual assault and misconduct.
Simons led a task force that earlier this year proposed new ways to deal with sexual assaults on campus.
He said the “very human cost” of sexual misconduct “should compel all of us to do better than we have in response to this vexing issue.”
Asked about the problem of alcohol abuse, he said the evidence shows a large percentage of victims and assailants in campus sexual assaults had been using alcohol.
He said the school has had some success combating alcohol abuse, but said, “the truth is we’ve been engaged in the alcohol problem around here since the beginning of time. It comes with the territory.”