Last week in Oklahoma, a video of carousing Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity men from the University of Oklahoma came to public attention. Revelry on the bus involved no injuries, physical violence or violations of law … only a silly chant that included a reference to lynching and the politically incorrect “N word.” The university president, David Boren, harshly criticized the fraternity men (“You are disgraceful. You have violated every principle that this university stands for.”), closed the fraternity and expelled two members.
On Feb. 28 in State College, a 22-year-old female Penn State student, Ciarah Bishop, was arrested after an incident at the McDonald’s restaurant on College Avenue. She was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and aggravated assault. Disorderly conduct and resisting arrest are misdemeanors. Aggravated assault is a felony.
According to Penn State’s Off-Campus Misconduct Policy, “... there are many circumstances where the off-campus behavior of students affects a substantial university interest and warrants disciplinary action.” A substantial university interest is affected by (among other things) conduct that “… constitutes a violation of local, state or federal law,” or “… significantly breaches the peace and/or causes social disorder.”
In contrast to the University of Oklahoma president, who immediately condemned and punished OU students who had engaged in flagrantly inappropriate behavior, Penn State’s president or other administration officials have not publicly condemned Bishop’s behavior, which was more flagrantly inappropriate than the fraternity chant, or punished her in any way. Their apparent indifference about misconduct of PSU students is appalling.