Along with the grand jury report released Friday that recommends 12 changes that should be made to law and university policy based on findings from a 10-month investigation of Greek life, Penn State issued its own 69-page response.
The university, which received the report on October 27, kept its message that it has made “extraordinary efforts” to change the culture of Greek life despite “limitations” — listed as “the unwillingness of the national fraternities, their associations, undergraduate members, and fraternity alumni to challenge behavior that has been accepted for years across the nation.”
“There is a reason why fraternities choose to operate in privately-owned houses off-campus,” the university said of its struggle to govern. “National fraternities, their alumni, and their members deliberately take shelter outside the limit’s of any university’s authority.”
Penn State is in double figures of fraternities that it has suspended, most of which came in the past year thanks to new strict regulations for the organizations. However, it has been noted in the past that some of these regulations can be easily side-stepped. The university says that the report “omitted entirely” Vice President of Student Affairs Damon Sims’ lengthy testimony about how to battle students’ “counter-measures” to these regulations.
At the end of the day, Penn State does not see the recommendations as the least bit helpful to its ongoing issues regulating Greek life — saying that the report “diminishes” its “major” efforts without acknowledging that the problem extends far beyond Happy Valley.
“We take note of the report’s struggle to provide even a single specific recommendation to the university that would help in the ongoing effort here and across the country to combat issues related to dangerous drinking and hazing among college students.”
The university also deflected the responsibility issued upon it in the grand jury report in policing these “private organizations on private property” — saying “with relatively weak hazing and underage drinking laws, perhaps law enforcement is incapable of meaningfully addressing these issues.”
Aside from its role in currently reforming Greek culture at Penn State, the university also answered to the report’s claims that it “thwarted” previous attempts to address issues in Greek life, more specifically from a period from 2007-09 at Beta Theta Pi. It stated that the claims were unfounded, some of which were based solely on a conversation with famous alumnus Don Abbey, who donated to renovate the fraternity house more than a decade ago and made his poor opinion on the state of the Penn State chapter through the years.
Beta was previously disbanded in 2008 for violating alcohol policies, but was reestablished in 2010 in what was supposed to be an alcohol-free, hazing-free model fraternity.
You can read the full Penn State response to the grand jury presentment below.