STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Penn State University’s president says an investigation into the Facebook posting of nude photographs by a now-suspended fraternity points to the possible need for a re-evaluation of the entire fraternity system.
Eric Barron issued a statement Wednesday night to the Penn State community, saying some senior university leaders see a need for such a review.
He says, “We are considering our options.” He didn’t elaborate.
In interviews, Barron had emphasized the need to focus on individual actions rather than blaming an entire institution.
More than 4,000 undergraduates at the State College campus belong to fraternities.
Kappa Delta Rho was recently suspended for a year by its national organization over allegations that members shared frat house photos of nude and partly nude women on a private, invitation-only Facebook page.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
Some students could be expelled over the Facebook posting of photos of nude and partly nude women by a now-suspended Pennsylvania State University fraternity, the university’s president said.
Eric Barron said of the webpage: “It’s very sad, and it’s very offensive.” The nude photos include some of women who are asleep or passed out.
“I can’t imagine anybody that’s not appalled by the alleged behaviour,” Barron said in an interview on Wednesday.
The national leaders of Kappa Delta Rho on Tuesday suspended the Penn State chapter for a year over the photo scandal and said it would be reorganized.
Police in State College, home to Penn State’s main campus, are investigating allegations the fraternity operated a private Facebook page on which members shared frat house pictures of the women. According to a warrant, the invitation-only page had 144 active members, including students and alumni.
Police said some of the photos they had seen showed women in “sexual or embarrassing positions.” While some of the women photographed appeared to be aware their pictures were being taken, others did not, police said in court documents.
Barron said the university is working with police to determine the number of offenders and victims and will hold those responsible accountable for what they did.
“This is the kind of behaviour that can get someone expelled,” he said.
Police have said they have identified at least two photographs that could lead to criminal charges but the investigation is continuing.
A young man who answered the door on Tuesday at Kappa Delta Rho said the fraternity had no comment. No-trespassing signs were posted there on Wednesday.
Penn State’s flagship campus in State College has about 40,000 undergraduate students. About 4,000 of them belong to one of the 50 fraternity chapters, including Kappa Delta Rho, governed by the Interfraternity Council.
Barron, speaking to reporters at the state capitol in Harrisburg, was asked about whether the fraternity system as a whole needs to be reviewed. He said the focus should be on dealing with people who act inappropriately, not targeting the system.
“I think if you punish those that are responsible, we all learn, and if you punish everybody, then I don’t think we really all learn,” he said.
Police were tipped off about the Facebook account on Jan. 18 by a former fraternity member who shared printouts of some of the pictures. The printouts were included in some of the court documents provided Tuesday to news outlets; police later said that was a mistake.
Police said anyone who posted the photos could face misdemeanour charges of harassment or invasion of privacy, with a fine being the most likely penalty. They also said they expected some women would only want to have the photos removed and not press charges.
Associated Press writer Marc Levy in Harrisburg contributed to this report.