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Penn State may review its fraternity system

HERSHEY, Pa. - Pennsylvania State University is considering a review of its fraternity system after one of its chapters shared nude photos of women on private Facebook pages.

HERSHEY, Pa. - Pennsylvania State University is considering a review of its fraternity system after one of its chapters shared nude photos of women on private Facebook pages.

"I think it makes sense," president Eric Barron said Thursday during a break in university board of trustee committee meetings here.

Barron cited national incidents of fraternity hazing, racial discrimination, and sexual impropriety, and said that while Penn State has some of the best fraternities, it also has some problems.

"You see cases of hazing. You see cases of alcohol consumption. You see the example we just had. So, what do you do to keep the best?"

The review, he said, would be similar to the university's task force on sexual assault and misconduct, which recently recommended more training, changes in the hearing system, and a requirement that most employees report misconduct - ideas that Barron endorsed.

He said a decision would be made soon on whether to examine the system of 56 fraternities.

In the meantime, he said, the university is cooperating with State College police in its investigation of Kappa Delta Rho. This week, police said they were looking into allegations that members of the fraternity posted pictures of nude and partially nude women - some who appeared to be sleeping or passed out - on private Facebook pages.

The national office of the fraternity announced Tuesday that it had suspended the chapter for one calendar year.

On Thursday, someone had spray-painted "Tear it down" on the frat house's stone exterior.

No one has been charged yet in the investigation, which began in January after a former fraternity member reported the invitation-only pages to police.

In a lengthy statement posted Thursday on the university's website, Barron said that some members of the university's senior leadership team believe a review would be warranted.

He called the posting of the photos "appalling," "offensive," and "also potentially a crime."

"I am shocked and angered by the apparent disregard for not only the law, but also human dignity," Barron said in the statement. "I pledge that everything within our power will be done to hold those responsible accountable for their actions and to assist anyone who has been victimized by these shameful acts."

Several trustees attending the meeting in Hershey said they also were upset by the incident.

But trustee Ted Brown, who was a Penn State fraternity brother and whose father was a member, and whose daughters belong to sororities at the university, warned against a rush to judgment.

He noted that Penn State's dance marathon, Thon, raises millions of dollars for pediatric cancer each year and was born of the school's Greek system.

"I'm happy for any review that's productive," said Brown, chief executive and owner of a disaster-recovery planning firm in State College. "I think what happened there is awful. . . . [But] let's not jump to conclusions over one bad thing done by one bad fraternity."

Board member Barbara Doran, a private wealth portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley in New York, agreed with Brown that more education was needed. She said she was disturbed to see the incident occur after the release of the sexual assault task force report.

"It's a terrible irony," she said.

Trustee Alice Pope, a psychology professor at St. John's University, said she hoped male students on campus feel compelled to speak out.

"All the decent, kind, responsible young men on our campus, I would love to see them stand up and say, this kind of behavior is unacceptable," she said. "We do not embrace it ... and we stand up against it."