If the past is any indication, the fraternity scandal at Pennsylvania State University - the latest in a string of incidents across the country - will blow over without any fundamental change to Greek life in State College.
Last week, the school said it would consider a review of its fraternity system after students at one, Kappa Delta Rho, allegedly posted nude photos of sleeping or unconscious women on private Facebook pages. The fraternity's national organization has suspended the chapter for one year. Police are investigating.
But the likelihood of systemic change will be difficult - if not impossible - experts say, as Penn State potentially challenges a system entrenched in more than a century of tradition. Even if large-scale policy is crafted, experts say there is no guarantee it can be enforced by individual chapters, whose day-to-day activities are largely managed by students.
However, the experts also offered solutions that include public databases of violations and adult supervision within individual houses.
Penn State's fraternities have weathered worse scandals, such as a freshman's death in a fall from a balcony in 2009, but faced no long-term consequences.
"It seems we're in a moment of national conversation that has not happened in a while," said Nicholas Syrett, an associate professor of history at the University of Northern Colorado and author of a book about white fraternities.
"But similar moments have happened in the past. And they did not result in major changes," he said.
Penn State is in the midst of a pivotal opportunity to reform not only its own system but also encourage other systems across the country to change, said Gentry McCreary, a consultant with the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management.
While smaller colleges have made strides toward overhauling their fraternity systems, McCreary said it would take a "high-profile, flagship institution" like Penn State to prompt change across the country.
Reforming the system
So far, it's often been lawsuits and bad publicity that have ushered in significant reforms. But the results have failed to curb headlines or alleged hazing.
For instance, in 2010, the national organization of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity started to post online a database of violations committed by its local chapters across the country.
SAE created the list to help settle a wrongful-death lawsuit that stemmed from a hazing-related incident in California. But the database currently shows that dozens of violations have continued to mount, including at 10 Pennsylvania schools, Penn State among them.
SAE has continued to draw headlines. In 2012, members at Maryland's Salisbury University allegedly beat students with paddles and forced them to drink alcohol and wear women's clothing.
The national organization eventually banned all pledging rituals in an effort to end hazing last year. But hazing allegedly has persisted.
And two weeks ago, SAE members at the University of Oklahoma were captured on video chanting racist slurs, drawing national media attention.
Last week, it was Penn State's turn. Police said members of its Kappa Delta Rho chapter shared on Facebook photos of sleeping or passed-out women, nude and partially nude, taken at the State College fraternity house.
Students protested outside the house Friday. No one has been arrested.
Penn State is just one of at least nine universities that have suspended fraternity chapters in the last two weeks. The alleged offenses range from the use of a stun gun on a fraternity member at Washington and Lee to $400,000 of damage incurred by a University of Michigan fraternity at a ski resort.
Penn State president Eric Barron said a potential review of the fraternity system would resemble a recent task force on sexual assault, which among the recommendations suggested more training for faculty.
Tim Burke, an Ohio-based attorney who represents fraternities across the country, warned against Penn State going too far. He noted that some schools had punished entire Greek systems for trouble caused by one fraternity or just a few students.
Burke pointed to West Virginia University, which in November suspended all Greek life indefinitely after an alcohol-related hazing death at one fraternity and the arrest of several students at another.
The University of Virginia also temporarily suspended Greek activities last fall after Rolling Stone published an article about an alleged gang rape.
The magazine later apologized for the story, admitting it was poorly reported. Fraternities and sororities reopened in January.
"I do think it's too frequent that universities respond in part to public attention and sometimes act before all the facts are known," Burke said.
"You'll hear from universities that it's a teachable moment," he continued. "But it ought to involve teaching everyone that the Constitution offers people a fair opportunity to defend themselves before sanctions are put in place."
Some schools, albeit ones much smaller than Penn State, have brought about systematic change.
In New England, Wesleyan University recently ordered its fraternities to go coed after two sexual-assault lawsuits. Trinity College made a similar order. And Amherst banned them altogether.
But those changes also were met with resistance. At Trinity, the decision drew protests from students and alumni. A petition with nearly 4,500 signatures circulated online.
Little change expected
Changing large state schools will be an even greater challenge, said Syrett, the University of Northern Colorado professor. He is also the author of a 2009 book, The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities.
Syrett said that Greek alumni were a powerful force, sometimes withholding donations if their fraternity or sorority is threatened by university action. And some schools often depend on fraternities to help shoulder the burden of student housing.
Doug Fierberg, an attorney who has helped people sue several universities and fraternities, expects little change to come out of Penn State's latest scandal. He has overseen lawsuits involving hazing deaths as well as the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
"Penn State and the fraternity will pat themselves on the back as if they've done something proper," he said. "But until the fundamental flaws [are addressed] in the way the fraternities are managed - and mismanaged - this will continue to get worse."
He said schools should post online every fraternity and sorority suspension and rule-breaking incident for parents to see. He also believes that fraternities should be supervised by a nonmember.
"Kappa Delta Rho can close this chapter, and in three or four years they can bring it back with a great group of young men," McCreary, the risk-management consultant, said.
"But if there aren't other changes at the system level, the new group will regress to the mean," he said.
In 2009, Penn State freshman Joseph Dado, 18, fell off a balcony and died after a night of drinking at two fraternities. Penn State temporarily suspended both, and each was charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor. One paid a $500 fine and received 70 days of community service. The other paid $100.