In Jan. 2015, a former pledge of fraternity Kappa Delta Rho, James Vivenzio, 21, revealed the details of an invitation-only Facebook page where KDR members regularly discussed the use and sale of illegal drugs in addition to posting nude photos of intoxicated women, sometimes unconscious or being sexually assaulted, to police. As a result of this discovery, in May, Penn State, the school of the chapter of KDR where the above events occurred, annulled the fraternity’s recognition on campus for the next three years.
The annulment of the KDR chapter’s recognition on the Penn State campus was a reversal of the campus Intrerfraternity Council decision to allow KDR to remain on campus, as long as members participated in sexual-assault-intervention training, in addition to other measures meant to change the fraternity’s culture.
On June 4, the national headquarters of the fraternity expelled 38 of 100 members involved in the Facebook scandal from its ranks. Just days later, another chapter in the drama came to light. Vivenzio, the original whistleblower of the previous Facebook scandal involving KDR, filed suit against Penn State, Kappa Delta Rho, Penn State’s Interfraternity Council, in addition to the school’s Panhellenic Association.
The suit claims that the fraternity’s intense hazing left Vivenzio with Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), for which he was hospitalized earlier this year. Other alleged outcomes of the hazing include Vivenzio failing freshman year at Penn State, despite having been a “successful high school student,” states court documents, and rehab for alcohol abuse.
Rather at one point, pledges were forced to do push-ups on the fraternity’s basement floor, which was covered with broken glass, bleach, and cigarette butts; one pledge, who was allergic to bleach, required a shot of epinephrine. Two pledges were reportedly branded with hot clothes hangers. The fraternity website displays an advertisement for an anti-hazing hotline.
Vivenzio claims he was victimized by KDR by way of hazing throughout the 2012-2013 school year. He alleges he went to Penn State officials with evidence of the Facebook postings and the abuse in April 2014, but that nothing was done. Vivenzio eventually brought his allegations to State College police and an investigation began.
The university claims that although Vivenzio did approach school officials in 2014, “neither he nor his family were willing to file a complaint, provide documentation, speak with State College Police or participate in pursuing the formal disciplinary process available to them, despite repeated encouragement from University staff.”
The university investigation found that some frat members engaged in hazing, such as forcing pledges to run errands, clean the fraternity house, participate in boxing matches, to hold up the weight of their bodies on their arms with bottle caps attached under their elbows, to create stories with pornographic images and to create a “sex position of the day,” (the last found to be a requirement for all pledges). The investigation determined that the fraternity environment was degrading and disrespectful toward women.
Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs, in a letter to the university’s Interfraternity Council, cited the “persistent harassment of two female students, who were degraded through multiple postings to the organization’s private site over an extended period.” None of the women in the afore mentioned nude photographs posted on a Facebook page for a now-suspended Penn State fraternity, KDR, are cooperating with investigators, police said on Friday, frustrating efforts to bring charges against the fraternity’s members.
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 news organization, Reuters. 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,” said Robb. “It’s not uncommon for victims to be reluctant to press charges, especially when it’s embarrassing, when there are nude photos involved.”
The KDR Facebook scandal is not a case of bad apples. Five percent of women on college campuses experience rape or attempted rape every year (Kilpatrick, Resnick, Riggierio, Conoscenti, & McCauley, 2007; American College Health Association, 2013). Two different longitudinal studies have found that fraternity men are 3 times more likely to commit sexual assault than male college students not participating in Greek life (Foubert, Newberry, & Tatum, 2007; Loh, Gidycz, Lobo, & Luthra, 2005.)
The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity chapter at the University of Texas at Arlington has been shut down by their national organization after three sexual assaults reportedly took place at the house in less than a month, NBC reports. Georgia Tech has recently disbanded its Phi Kappa Tau fraternity after an investigation showed that the fraternity, best known for circulating an email from its leadership titled “Luring your rapebait,” held a culture that may have been detrimental to females.
What do you think? Is the current system of incident reporting within colleges effective? Should intercampus crime be left to the police? Should Greek life be left as it is, reformed, or banned altogether?