Beta Theta Pi suspended over sexually explicit recordings

Jackson Lane Jun 14, 2013

In an email to the entire campus community sent last Friday, Dean of Student Affairs Gina Casalegno announced that the university is investigating allegations regarding the filming and circulation of sexually explicit photos and videos in the university’s chapter of the national Beta Theta Pi fraternity. The university is also investigating whether these alleged videos and pictures will constitute a violation of the university’s community standards or the law. Pending the outcome of the investigation, both the university and the fraternity’s national chapter have suspended the university’s chapter, colloquially referred to by students as “Beta.”

According to Casalegno, University Police initiated the ongoing investigation after an anonymous student raised concerns about “alleged videos and pictures of a sexual nature being taken inside the chapter facility of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity by certain members of the organization and shared by email with other members [of the fraternity].”

In a press release on the school’s website, the university stated, “CMU’s top priority is the safety, security, and well-being of our community. Carnegie Mellon does not condone nor tolerate violations of university community standards or the law.” The university states that it will pursue internal disciplinary actions against the fraternity and its members if they are found to have violated the university’s community standards. The university also intends to refer any evidence of criminal wrongdoing to law enforcement officials.

The university has not yet elaborated on the exact nature of any alleged community standards violations or legal infractions. Rather, Casalegno emphasized, “The investigation is ongoing, and we do not yet know the circumstances of the capturing or the sharing of images or precisely what violations of University policy or the law may have taken place.”

Nevertheless, in an email following Casalegno’s announcement, Jared Cohon, Carnegie Mellon President, expressed that he was “shocked and deeply disappointed when [he] learned about these allegations.” He further stated, “These alleged activities are wholly inconsistent with our values and will not be tolerated.”

Casalegno’s announcement does not come as news to some students. Prior to Casalegno’s email on Friday, senior industrial design major Maureen Griswold posted, “If you don’t know what this is referring to, women were raped at Beta and evidence was found supporting it,” in response to an anonymous post on the CMU Confessions Facebook page about the suspension of the fraternity.

On the anonymous fraternity and sorority rating site greekrank.com, a user by the name of “Shame” posted on March 26, saying that Beta should “expect criminal allegations along the lines of sexual assault, and possibly distributing sexual content involving a minor.”

Casalegno, in an email to the student body, urged “anyone with related concerns or questions to speak to [her] or to University Police directly.”

“The concern raised and the focus of our investigation is on the taking and sharing of images. We will be reaching out to anyone whom we believe may have any information that would be relevant to this investigation. And, important to note, that if ever anyone has information about this matter or more serious issues related to this investigation or otherwise, I urge him or her to come forward,” Casalegno added.

Neither the national Beta Theta Pi fraternity nor Carnegie Mellon’s local chapter could be reached for comment.