Penn St students protest against frat over nude photo posts

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Posted: Mar 20, 2015 6:09 PM
Penn St students protest against frat over nude photo posts

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, the university's vice president for student affairs, Damon Sims, told trustees at a board meeting that the scandal provided fresh evidence that more needs to be done about sexual misconduct on campus.

Back on campus later in the day, Sims said he would seek a meeting with all fraternity presidents this weekend. He also said he wants a review of the entire fraternity system, with a close look at its relationship with alcohol — which he had told trustees is a major factor in sexual misconduct.

Protest organizers asked the university to put Kappa Delta Rho members involved with the Facebook page on interim suspension pending completion of the investigations. They also want the school to sever ties with the now-suspended fraternity chapter.

Sims, who met with the organizers, said summary suspensions are carried out only when there is an immediate threat, or danger of a renewed threat. He said he doesn't believe the frat would again produce such a Facebook page.

Student Peri Kahraman of Columbus, Ohio, said she took part in the noontime demonstration to help change a culture that has made women feel unsafe at fraternities.

"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."

What he found most offensive, he said, is 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 the frat 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 an investigation by police, who have said at least two of the photos uncovered could result in criminal charges.

Barron said late Friday after the trustee meeting that if he had been on campus to participate in the rally, his sign would have read, "Shame on you."

Sims told the trustees meeting in Hershey that the allegations against the fraternity show the school needs to do more to address sexual assault and misconduct.

The "very human cost" of sexual misconduct "should compel all of us to do better than we have in response to this vexing issue," said Sims, who led a task force that earlier this year proposed new ways to deal with sexual assaults.

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.

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Scolforo reported from Hershey.