Facebook Photos Land Fraternity in Hot Water


Just days after Facebook declares new policies, private group photos land a fraternity in hot water. At Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) the fraternity known as Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) was found to have had a private group page where various pictures of debauchery and illegal actions were posted. The fraternity called their private group “Covert Business Transactions” and had over 150 members. The members included current students, as well as Penn State alumni. Being that the page was set to private settings, all of the members had been privately invited to join.

The KDR page contained images of sleeping, naked women, as well as photographs of drug sales and hazing rituals. Police obtained a search warrant for the private Facebook page, and are investigating the content. According to a copy of the official police warrant, the authorities were notified of the Facebook group by a former member of KDR in January. In the police report, the ex-KDR brother gave police information as to how the Facebook page had been discovered by a person outside the fraternity.

The original page was discovered by a woman who had been visiting the fraternity in April of 2014. A KDR member had left his Facebook page open, and the unidentified woman saw a topless picture of herself was on the page. After the woman complained to the fraternity, the Covert Business Transactions page was taken down, though a new page dubbed two-point-zero (2.0) was soon created.

This incident is another black mark on college fraternities. Last week, a University of Oklahoma fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), had it’s chapter disbanded after a video surfaced of SAE members engaging in a racist chant. The Oklahoma fraternity is also depicted quite unfavorably in a documentary about rape on college campuses called The Hunting Ground. It has been reported that certain members of SAE have received death threats for their racist actions, while others have been physically assaulted. Two of the members have been expelled from the University.

Allegedly, another chapter of SAE, this time from the University of Washington chapter in Seattle, was also involved in racist comments. While protesting to raise awareness about racism, members of the SAE chapter were heard calling protesters “monkeys and apes” according to the president of the university’s Black Student Union. The University of Washington chapter of SAE  readily denies the claims of racism.

When the expulsion of two students, along with disbanding the SAE chapter itself, comes from video surfacing of a racist chant, the consequences for KDR members whose Facebook pictures landed them in hot water remains to be seen. Since the photos on the two Facebook group pages depicted not only naked pictures taken without the consent of young women, but also illegal drug transactions, the outcome seems straightforward. If students can be expelled for joining in a racist chant, then harsher consequences need to be handed out to those who are proven to be liable in the KDR scandal.

On a flash drive provided by the former KDR member, screenshots had been saved of many of the questionable pictures on the Facebook pages. Many were of drunken students, both awake and passed out, and included female students puking. There were also photos of sexual acts likely taken without the young women knowing. Pictures of naked women asleep that had been posed in sexual or otherwise embarrassing poses were also found on the page. Police are working with the officials of Penn State in the investigation.

Following the finding of these Facebook photos, the chapter was immediately suspended, pending the results of the investigation. A spokeswoman for Penn State says the photos are, “a direct violation of the standards and values of a recognized student organization at Penn State.” Facebook has yet to comment on the matter, but with recent policy changes the students proven to be involved may have their access to Facebook revoked.

This case of another fraternity caught in the act of immoral or illegal behavior seems a more pressing matter than that of SAE. Partially this is because of Facebook’s involvement. On a deeper level, the issues raised by these Facebook groups encompasses many issues, including but not limited to, racism in institutions of higher learning. In this KDR scandal there are women being taken advantage of, and there are illegal sales of drugs depicted as well. Though the investigation is still underway, of great interest to many is whether or not all members of the private Facebook group will be held accountable for the pictures posted. This scandal may have further reaching consequences for the students involved, other than expulsion.

This matter of the Penn State fraternity brings up many issues that are a hot topic in the United States in recent months. With Facebook at times working with law enforcement agencies to discover ISIS supporters, it shows that social networking sites can be used as evidence regarding terrorists being identified. There are fraternities being outed as racist bigots. Then there is the KDR issue itself, of if some members of the Facebook group can be prosecuted for actions such as invasion of privacy, being that women are being taken advantage of. The following weeks are sure to set new standards in many such cases, and not just because Facebook photos landed a fraternity in hot water.

By Benjamin Johnson


ABC News


Al Jazeera

Photo by Jimmy Smith – Flickr License

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