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Why Do Ex-KDR Members Still Think It’s Okay To Wear Their Letters?

The story that members of Kappa Delta Rho were accused of taking pictures of mostly nude women, passed out or sleeping, and posting them on the fraternity’s private Facebook page broke six-and-a-half months ago.

People were shocked. I was shocked. A college student, woman, and member of the Penn State media scene, I remember watching the news report from WJAC in our weekly Onward State meeting and feeling sick. This is not something that you think the kid sitting next to you in math might be doing on his phone before class, or in his frat house after the party simmers down on Saturday night. It was something from a sick, twisted movie… and it was going on three blocks from campus.

Over the past six-and-a-half months, more and more information has surfaced, and Penn State’s chapter of KDR went from making national headlines to having its national and campus recognition revoked.

If Penn State Kappa Delta Rho and “disgusting” are synonyms, why do I see people nonchalantly walking around this campus in KDR letters? Numerous times I’ve passed guys wearing sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats, etc. with “Kappa Delta Rho,” “KDR,” the related Greek “K-triangle-P,” and “Rush Kappa Delta Rho” seemingly proudly displayed across their chests and backs. And every time, it makes me want to punch them in the face.

And so, to those guys at the gym, walking to class, or at a tailgate, I have some things I need to say.

They’re your clothes, whatever; you’re not going to not wear your clothes. Penn State can (and did) come in and tell your fraternity that it doesn’t exist anymore in its eyes. The national chapter of the same fraternity can (and did!) knock on the door and tell 38 members that they are suspended. But no one is going to rummage through your room and burn anything that has the letters KDR, in Greek or English, branded across it. You’re responsible for what you wear…or don’t. Facebook commenters, parents, and kids in your class can tell you that being a member of a fraternity page that posted pictures of unconscious, nude women is wrong, and that can make you feel like shit, and make you want no association with your former brotherhood.

But then again, maybe it can’t, and you won’t feel any remorse. And you’ll continue to wear your letters as a sense of a pride for what once was. A respect for the organization that gave you opportunities for leadership, networking, and social interaction. Can you not tell how terrible that is? Nobody walking down the street is going to see you in your Kappa Delta Rho shirt and think, “Wow, he probably had a lot of opportunities to meet respectable Penn State alumni in his time at KDR.” No, what they’re going to immediately associate with your shirt is that you had something to do with the vile actions that went on under the roof of the house at 420 E. Prospect Ave.

To be fair (and non-libelous), police, university, and IFC investigations are ongoing, and there is no knowledge to the degree to which all members were involved. But even if you didn’t take a girl to your room and take a picture of her passed out and then post it online, there’s a good chance that you were still a member of the Facebook page. There were, after all, 144 active members in Covert Business Transactions and 2.0. But for argument’s sake, let’s say you had absolutely nothing to do with it (or you don’t think it was a big deal), and you wear the letters KDR just because, not to offend anyone. Regardless, you’d be better off saving your breath than trying to convince me you’re not a piece of scum for advertising the fact you’re proud to have been a part of an organization that doesn’t realize what was done was immoral and awful. I’ve never seen anyone wearing a KDR shirt also holding a sign that reads, “It wasn’t me.”

So is this where the school gets involved? Should suspended fraternities be expected to turn in their letters after their chapter is placed on any kind of suspension or administrative watch? Though there’s currently no rule, there’s also no fair way for Penn State or any other school to ask an organization to hand over its members clothing.

At the University of Oklahoma, all members of Greek life were told not to wear letters after Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) was suspended after a racially-charged video surfaced. The Greek community at the University was also advised to avoid slander and assault for their relation to Greek life. At Penn State, not all sororities and fraternities received this kind of backlash over Kappa Delta Rho’s situation, but cries to shut down Greek life were not absent. Though analysis (and likely change) are on the horizon, it is unlikely that Penn State Greek life will be on the outs, at least in the near future.

So, ex- or alumni-members of Kappa Delta Rho: no one is going to take your letters, and surely no one is forcing them onto your body, so the decision lies in your hands. Branding Kappa Delta Rho around campus is a slap-in-the-face to anyone who was a victim to your fraternity’s lewd acts. The countless females victimized by your actions have been through enough, and shouldn’t have to be faced with a reminder of your offenses walking down the street or sitting in class. Locally and nationally, this display is an insult to Penn State and those related who were hurt, impacted, or disgusted by your acts in anyway.

At this point, no member of KDR is going to prove anything by parading around Penn State, proudly or otherwise, in their letters, other than the fact they lack decency, consideration, and basic human awareness.

About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.

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