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Opinion Editor: Penn State Frats Need Immediate Re-evaluation


The Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Penn State has been suspended for a year as police investigate private Facebook pages where fraternity members allegedly posted pictures of naked women, and some of the women appear to be passed out. The university's president said in a statement the incident, quote, "brings us to a point where we must ask if a reevaluation of the fraternity system is required." Emily Chappell is the opinions editor of The Daily Collegian, the campus newspaper, and she joins us from a studio at Penn State. Thanks so much for being with us.

EMILY CHAPPELL: Absolutely, thank you for having me.

SIMON: Is this a good response, in your judgment, suspending the frat for a year and then asking if the fraternity system should be reevaluated?

CHAPPELL: We were a little frustrated by that wording. We personally believe, you know, that a reevaluation shouldn't be a question. It should be something that is immediately happening. They should be looking into the fraternity systems.

SIMON: They should be looking into the fraternity system 'cause this is not just a matter of a few individuals, but an entire system that's at fault.

CHAPPELL: You know, it's not fair to put the blame on the entire system. You know, we countlessly says in sexual assaults it's not a fraternity problem. It's not an alcohol problem. But we also can't be naive enough not to point out that there seems to be a theme happening where people have this groupthink and are able to hide behind a larger organization.

SIMON: Can you give us any more insight as to what the conversation on your editorial board's been like?

CHAPPELL: We were shocked and disgusted when this information came out. You know, one of our first editorials was just somewhat emotional - us explaining that we are very frustrated that this has happened. We are disgusted. These actions are vile, and we, as a student newspaper, are putting our foot down. We're not going to stand for it. As more information has unfolded, specifically the anonymous interview that came out in Philadelphia magazine - that was another topic of one of our editorials.

SIMON: I don't know that story.

CHAPPELL: An anonymous member of the fraternity was interviewed by Philadelphia magazine. And went on to discuss that he didn't think that what was happening was a big deal, that people were being unfairly prosecuted by the media and blamed for things that had been happening for years, that are happening everywhere. You know, people just having some fun, and we were just livid with what was said.

SIMON: At the same time, I have to return to that question - you seem to think that this is widespread, not just something that happened on one night in one house.

CHAPPELL: Absolutely. We - you know, we're not saying this is a Kappa Delta Rho problem. It's not just a Penn State problem. This is widespread throughout the country. Issues of sexual assault have been at the forefront, especially with President Obama's task force this year. Our university also had a sexual assault and sexual harassment task force, so these issues are definitely out there.

SIMON: Penn State has still been reeling from the Jerry Sandusky case, hasn't it?

CHAPPELL: Yes, it has.

SIMON: This probably doesn't help the school's reputation.

CHAPPELL: I can't speak for The Collegian staff for this one, but personally I'm sure it doesn't help. I also don't think that's what we should be focusing on right now. I think we should be focusing on what has happened and the people who have been affected and how we can fix it. You know, they are the people who need our attention.

SIMON: Emily Chappell, who is opinions editor at The Daily Collegian at Penn State, thanks so much for being with us.

CHAPPELL: Absolutely, thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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