Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Shooting at Youngstown State University

A shooting that killed one and injured 11 took place at a fraternity house of Youngstown State University in Ohio:
Authorities say a shooting at a fraternity house just north of the Youngstown State University campus killed one student and injured 11 people, including six students. Youngstown police Lt. Franklin Palmer says the shooting happened early Sunday and no arrests have been made. A statement from the school says officers are working to identify suspects, and the YSU police chief says there's no threat to the campus. Information on the identities and conditions of the injured was not immediately available. The university says the person killed and six of the injured are YSU students.  
I never understood the point of fraternities and sororities. All you ever hear about them is hazing, weird rituals, heavy drinking, sexual harassment, racism, and other nasty stuff like that. I'm from a different culture, and the idea of fraternities never made any sense to me. Is there a reason to promote their existence on campuses at all? There was this horrible story about misogynist activities of a fraternity at Yale recently. At my own university, we had reports of racist activities at a frat party a couple of weeks ago. And now there was this shooting in Ohio. 

Who needs fraternities if they cause all these problems? 

154 comments:

78 said...

Youngstown has an extremely high crime rate; this isn't so much a fraternity related incident, but more likely tied to a lot of the gang activity in the area. This took place at a private residence since YSU doesn't endorse any fraternity housing. YSU is not a traditional campus by any stretch of the imagination, and shootings such as this are common in many parts of the city.

Anonymous said...

Let me be the voice of reason. All people ever tend to hear about the Greek system is the negatives. They never hear, or choose not to hear the positives that are associated with fraternities and sororities. Member of the Greek system usually account for a large percentage of people involved in campus activities from student councils, rallies, community projects and such. They are also heavily involved with charitable organizations. People only tend to hear the negatives about such organizations because it makes for good news. Would you rather tune in to the news if the headline was about a shooting, or a group of young men donating their time at a soup kitchen? If you were to look up leaders of our great country, or just about anyone famous, I could almost guarantee you that they were involved in a fraternity or sorority. Ronald Reagan was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon. John Wayne and Brad Pitt were both members of Sigma Chi. Mike Tomlin, head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi. People from all walks of life become members of fraternites and sororities, and do good things throughout their life.

Clarissa said...

"Ronald Reagan was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon. John Wayne and Brad Pitt were both members of Sigma Chi. Mike Tomlin, head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi."

-And I rest my case. :-) I think you just made my point for me.

Anonymous said...

Please explain to me how I exactly made your point?

Clarissa said...

You offered a list of people who are not famous for their intelligence or scholarly achievements.

George W. Bush was also a member of a secret society at my alma mater. Another case in point.

Anonymous said...

Well, I understand the point of guys wanting to join fraternities because it makes it much easier to get laid, and anyone who says otherwise is just lying (service, community, blah blah shut the fuck up). Why women join sororities remains a mystery.


Stringer

Clarissa said...

Why does it make easier to get laid if you are in a fraternity?

(I'm not arguing, I'm asking.)

Pagan Topologist said...

I completely agree with you, Clarissa. My undergrad college had no fraternities nor sororities. And when I was a grad student, I learned of fraternities keeping files of term papers which could be retyped and turned in by someone else five or six years later, so they actively promoted organized plagiarism. Being a member of such an organization is certainly not a prerequisite for being involved in civic activities, etc., as the prior commenter suggests. Indeed, I would describe these activities as camouflage to cover the real nature of the organizations.

(Some math and science majors at my university about fifteen years ago asked me to be faculty advisor to a newly formed Greek letter organization which was a spoof of fraternities. It was called Nu Omicron Tau, or, of course, NOT. In addition to a few social and service activities, its real purpose was to promulgate puns on the word 'not' as in Rebecca is NOT, the president and Dr. Bellamy is NOT, the faculty advisor.)

I do not think the fraternities serve any useful purpose, unless you consider preserving rigid social class distinctions to be a useful purpose.

Anonymous said...

There's a certain cachet associated with being a fraternity and people (stupidly) think it elevates your social status. You get invited to cool parties, etc. You're young, white, and rich/uppermiddle class (not everyone can afford fraternity dues). What's not to like?

Stringer

Anonymous said...

The reason why you hear so much about hazing, drinking, harassment, racism, etc. when it comes to fraternities and sororities is that the negative side makes better news. It is unfortunate that many Greek letter organizations have fallen into the traditions of hazing, drinking and other such actions. Most fraternities and sororities are founded on very noble principles, such as courage, justice, faith, honor, honesty, integrity, brotherhood, love, scholarship, service, sisterhood, etc. But we rarely hear about the positive side of Greek life, for example Zeta Tau Alpha chapters sponsoring events on their campuses to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, or Alpha Xi Delta chapters sponsoring events to raise awareness about autism through Autism Speaks. Unfortunately, in our society these stories are not the ones that make the news.

Sororities and fraternities promote service, academic achievement, and leadership. Many students on college campuses across the country would not be participating in service or leadership opportunities if it wasn't for Greek organizations. Disappointingly, the organizations that do make it into the news are the ones who are not living up to the founding principles of their brotherhood or sisterhood. Please do not not judge every Greek letter organization based on negative media attention, it is not fair to assume that because some chapters haze, drink, harass, etc that all Greek organizations are guilty of the same crimes.

Clarissa said...

Back at Yale, there was a time every semester where students were going through their fraternity/sorority acceptance rites, and we had to be prepared to see students come to class in weird attire (a white sheet over underwear or simply underwear), exhausted (after spending 48 hours sitting on a beer keg, for example), or hungover beyond all reason.

It's hard to see the positive side of fraternities when, as the instructor, you have to get ready to waste an entire week of classes to accommodate these weird rituals.

78 said...

AGAIN, I am a student at this university. This is NOT a rich, white, upper class sort of environment AT ALL. This did not even take place at an official "fraternity house" (there are NO official fraternity houses at YSU). This is an urban commuter school in a city with an EXTREMELY HIGH crime rate and gang activity, and you are using this tragedy as a platform to air your problems with fraternities at traditional universities. Those two environments are totally incomparable.

Clarissa said...

I hear what you are saying, 78. Yale is also located "in a city with an EXTREMELY HIGH crime rate and gang activity", which is why I'm drawing these parallels.

The history of hazing and extreme drunkenness at fraternities is very well-documented in all kinds of schools across North America.

Anonymous said...

The ignorance regarding Greek organizations displayed by some of the contributors on this blog is just staggering. How easy it is to embrace the "Animal House" stereotype promoted by the Hollywood media and self-proclaimed academic elites, rather than do a little objective research. Should anyone decide to try this unique approach you would find that those who join fraternities or sororities are no different than other students except to exercise their right to associate with like-minded people. Their work with philanthropies and their efforts in community service are considerable, but never mentioned. Their GPAs are usually equal to, or higher than the all-men's or all-women's averages at their schools, and their graduation rate is better. Their level of success in their careers after college is considerably better than that of the average independent student. I'll leave this with a link to info on just one Greek organization - Sigma Chi. Note the number of notable alumni in many different fields.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Sigma_Chi_members

Anonymous said...

This did not even take place at an official "fraternity house"

- Well, thank god for that. Because the only crime that happens at a frat house is date rape and who cares about that, right guys?

Stringer

Clarissa said...

Stringer, you are forgetting people getting sodomized with hockey sticks. (That happened at a school where I got my BA and MA).

Anonymous said...

Well we will all have to agree to disagree. Being a member of a fraternity does not make it easier to get laid. Here again, all you hear about fraternities and sororities is the negatives because they make better press. Not saying that negatives do not exist within the Greek system, but I could probably find just as many examples of things occuring and the people involved were not part of a fraternity or sorority. Furthermore, me posting the examples I did, does not make your point. Just because someone chooses a different path than a scholarly one, does not make their achievements null and void. Oh and by the way, I was a member of Theta Chi. Lee. C. Bollinger, president of Columbia University was also a member of Theta Chi. Owen Chamberlain, winner of the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physics, oh, and also a member of Theta Chi. If these two examples are not good enough, I will be more than happy to give you a much larger list of people who are know for their scholarly pursuits and intelligence.

Anonymous said...

People can hold all the opinions they want to about fraternities and sororities, but in order for others to respect your opinions try to look through an unbiased lens. These organizations differ from campus to campus. While they may fit the stereotype on your campus, that does not mean that is the case everywhere. Its so easy to bash organizations and groups of people based on their stereotypes. It is also very hurtful in many cases, as you can see with cases of racism, gender discrimination, religious intolerance, and the list goes on. I urge all of you to look at Greek students as individuals who made a choice to join an organization. Their motives may not be honorable in any sense, they may be the guy who joined a frat just to get laid. On the other hand they may be the woman who joined a sorority because she felt a personal connection to that organizations national philanthropy. Just because you personally would not join a Greek organization does not mean that other people should not join a sorority or fraternity.

Also, to tack on to the argument about famous people who were in Greek organizaions. Dr. Carolyn Leach Huntoon (Astronaut Director of NASA), John Mclaughlin (Deputy Director of the CIA), Dr. Cynthia Hamlet Cole (Head of pediatrics, Johns Hopkins), Elaine Jones (Director NAACP), just to name a few extremely intelligent and successful members of our society who also happened to be fraternity or sorority members in college.

Clarissa said...

What's especially shocking is the number of racist comments that people make about this shooting. Not on this blog, thankfully, but on other websites. In a discussion following the article I linked to somebody referred to the students at YSU as "stupid gangstas." This is beyond annoying given that nasty incidents related to fraternities happen on all kinds of campuses.

Katie said...

Sororities and Fraternities provide amazing opportunities to develop academically, socially and philanthropically. Since 1910, 85% of all Supreme Court justices have been Greek. 85% of Fortune 500 executives belong to a fraternity or sorority. 76% of Congress are also Greek members. Fraternity members have higher college graduation rates than non-Greeks.

There are issues of hazing in some chapters of some Greek organizations, but by and large, they are fantastic training grounds for success in adulthood.

Clarissa said...

A good training in bullying and dishonesty is, of course, crucial to becoming a Fortune 500 exec or a congress member. You will get no argument from me there.

Anonymous said...

These are organizations that, historically, barred jews or blacks or any other minorities from joining. Basically, it's a typical country club on a smaller scale, with all that it entails (racism, classism, rampant misogyny, old boy network, and so on).

Stringer

Katie said...

I am confused as to how you think they are training members in bullying and dishonesty. All national organizations have zero tolerance hazing policies. Can you explain where you are getting your ideas about what happens as a member of a Greek organization?

Irish said...

Hi Clarissa. I am sorry that you seem to buy in to the demonization of fraternity men in this way. You are perpetuating a media image rather than understanding.

I joined a fraternity 30 years ago and it was of the best things I ever did for myself. Yeah, some of my motives at the time were what you expect from a 19 year old - great parties and good looking women. But also I needed to remove myself from a very negative culture in which I had become emeshed, and joining a fraternity gave me a clear way to do that.

My fraternity brothers are still my best friends. We have been groomsmen, celebrated weddings and births together, helped bury parents and other loved ones - all the things friends do.

My fraternity has changed a lot over the past 30. When I was an undergrad, every newly-elected chapter president was sent at chapter expense to a leadership training course similar to Outward Bound. Now, through endowments, EVERY new member can attend FREE OF CHARGE during their first year of membership. The national organization of my fraternity has done a terrific job in changing the culture from one of Animal House fame to one of academic achievement and community service.

Yes, many fraternities (including my chapter) use the lure of cocktail parties and pretty girls for recruitment. But once you get there you find the reality is much different.

One of my brothers just returned with his family from being missionaries in southern Mexico for three years. They were helping build a medical center for an indigenous people called the Tzeltal indians. (www.hebronusa.org). A couple of years ago I lead a group of brothers down for a week long mission trip to help with construction.

Another of my brothers recently returned from his 3rd tour of duty in Iraq and was promoted to general officer and named commander of the National Guard for the state in which I live.

Fraternity men are leaders that add a lot to our society. I hope that you open your eyes to look beyond the hungover undergraduates to see the men they grow to be.

Clarissa said...

Katie: I have extensive experience studying and teaching at a variety of campuses in North America. So does the commenter who signs as Pagan Topologist. Have you read the stories we have posted within this same thread?

Stringer: you are absolutely right.

Clarissa said...

Irish: why just fraternity men? I have the same low opinion of sororities.

I have to confess that I have no idea what fraternities and sororities were like 30 years ago. Today, however, hardly a week goes by without a story coming in about some nasty incident at a fraternity or sorority. Should I pretend that this stories don't occur? What would be the right way of addressing this, in your opinion?

Anonymous said...

Well Clarissa, apparently facts stated by several posters here have no chance of swaying you from your extremely biased opinion. So be it. Have a nice day.

Katie said...

I have read the stories, and as someone who works for a nationa headquarters organization and is a member of the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, I have extensive experience with the Greek system. I agree, hazing does happen occasionally, but it is not representative of the organizations as a whole. Fraternity and Sorority professionals work diligently to help collegiate chapters live up to the values they espouse. Greek members do tremendous good on campuses and in communities. It is sad when the negative behaviors of a few color the perspective of Greek organizations for you and others.

Clarissa said...

I wonder what it was that people expected to find when they entered "youngstown shooting" into the search box. A post extolling the virtues of fraternities? "1 dead, 11 wounded. Fraternities rock!"?

Katie said...

I didn't search for "Youngstown shooting." I occasionally read your blog and you asked in the post "who needs fraternities if they cause all these problems"

I have simply been trying to answer your question and explain the side of Greek life of which you seem unaware.

Clarissa said...

822 people came to this blog since the post appeared with that particular search.

Katie said...

That's fine, but you seemed to be questioning why I and others were extolling the virtues of the Greek system and I was trying to explain.

If you have questions about the Greek community, I would be happy, and qualified, to answer them.

Anonymous said...

I attend YSU, and am familiar with the house where this happened (I met my wife there 20 years ago). It is a former Frat house, and true there is one next door, but is merely student apartments now. It was an incident after a party, and nobody has said what motivated it. It may have been a lover's quarrel for all we know.

Irish said...

Clarissa,

Regarding how to address it, I would say the same as with any other person or organization: hold individuals responsible for their behavior and hold organizations responsible for the behavior of their members. Holding fraternities and sororities responsible for the behavior of members has driven the efforts of the national organizations to clean up the culture. And while it well never be a total success, it is by and large succeeding.

You seem to have bought in to the belief that fraternities and sororities are a particular ill rather than reflections of society at large. There have been abuses in every organization of which I have ever been associated: my boy scout troop, my high school football team, the catholic church. And my fraternity. Because all of these are ultimately made up of people, with all the faults and frailties implied.

Might I remind you that hardly a week goes by without some story of police misconduct and abuse. Do you recall NYC policemen sodomizing a Haitian refugee with a broomstick in an interrogation room? Yet no reasonable person believes we should just do away with the police.

How about the stories of sexual harassment and even rape of female undergraduates at the Air Force Academy. But I don't here calls to eliminate our armed services.

The only reasonable way to address these issues is to hold offending individuals responsible for their behavior and place systemic pressure on the organizations to change the culture. Which I am proud to say is exactly what has been in the works over the past 30 years.

Clarissa said...

Katie: I do have a question, actually. Why are universities so eager to promote fraternities and sororities and a lot less interested in promoting actual student organizations? The student organization I supervise organizes really great cultural events on campus, but it's next to impossible to get the university to promote it and support it while fraternities that never did anything useful that I'm aware of get promoted instead? There must be some cultural reason for that which I'm not seeing.

Clarissa said...

Irish: the police is indispensable and the fraternities are not. That's a huge difference right there.

Clarissa said...

There is this interesting book on the inner workings of sororities:

http://www.amazon.com/Pledged-Secret-Sororities-Alexandra-Robbins/dp/B000FDFWP0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297022852&sr=8-1

"Robbins, who previously researched Yale's Skull and Bones Society for Secrets of the Tomb and also coauthored Quarterlife Crisis, went undercover for the 2002-2003 academic year to investigate the inner workings of "Greek" (National Panhellenic Conference) sororities. Sororities are far from anachronisms; there are presently some 3.5 million women in almost 3,000 Greek chapters on campuses across America. After the national office forbade locals from cooperating with Robbins, she disguised herself as an undergrad and found four sorority women willing to risk expulsion to help her. While Robbins structures her narrative around the year's ritual cycle-the rush, the bid, pledging, initiation, Greek Week, etc.-the timeless soap opera of sorority life occupies center stage. And although battles between girls can be wrenching, there's nothing like a date gone wrong to bring out the tearsâ€"and the thermos of vodka. Beyond romance, Robbins's informants have their own issues, among them, being black and poor in a rich white sorority and recovering from date rape by a frat brother. These problems are worsened by an environment that encourages binge drinking, drug abuse, eating disorders and blind obedience to what their pledge masters or sorority elders tell them to do. Historically black sororities, which are not the focus of this book, do have a reputation for promoting community service and sisterhood; "historically white" sororities, Robbins concludes, are really just social groups for making friends and meeting guys, despite their claims to academic and service values. After all, everyone knows sororities can be exclusive, conformist, and superficial organizations. But Robbins' account of life inside the sorority house still makes for fascinating reading. Following four sorority sisters through their first year in the house, a world of sex, drugs, eating disorders, and insecurity is revealed. One wonders, though, if these experiences are that different from the experiences of those students not affiliated with Greek societies. What is arguably different, though, is the extreme pressure brought to bear on these young women to repress their own natural instincts, desires, and inclinations in order to fit in with an amazingly shallow and often unworthy group of friends. Where the author really scores is in her analysis of why otherwise intelligent and sensitive women would sacrifice their independence, and often self-respect, for the sake of an artificially engineered secret society."

Katie said...

Clarissa: That may be the case at your university, but not all universities are promoting or supporting Greek organizations. In 2004, university and college presidents met in Washington DC to discuss whether Greek organizations had a place on campuses at all. One reason that some campuses do continue to support Greek organizations is because of the level of involvement of Greek members both during their collegiate years and after. During college, As undergraduates, Greeks raise $7 million per year for charities and give approx. 859,000 volunteer hours per year, which reflects well on universities. As alumni, Greeks give approximately 75% of all money donated to universities.

Anonymous said...

Clarissa,

One of the arguments you make against the Greek system is that they promote/perpetuate racism and biased behaviors. But you are displaying the exact same biased and close-minded attitude towards the Greek system that you complain they have. Based on your comments, you have very little to no knowledge of Fraternities or Sororities, which is common amongst people who have never been in or had friends in the Greek System. You do not have the right to make such biased and stereotypical claims about the Greek System when you have absolutely no real knowledge or experience with Fraternity men or Sorority women other than what you see on the news or hear from Hollywood movies.

I am a member of one of the largest Sororities in the country and I have a very close association with one of the largest Fraternities in the country. I can tell you that when these Greek men and women on here tell you that these negative headlines make the news because they are interesting and they do NOT by any means represent the Greek system as a whole, they are correct. If I were to stereotype an entire race or religion based only upon negative headlines that I see in the news, well then I certainly would have a similar way of thinking that you do to.

Whenever something bad happens with a Greek organization it makes headlines because there is a name (Greek letters) behind it. Hazing, excessive drinking, and inappropriate behavior occurs at parties that aren’t associated with Greek organizations all the time. What about headlines about non-Greek alcohol related deaths, etc? They don’t stick out to you as much because they can’t be labeled with anything.

I was never once hazed as a member of my organization. Those weird “rituals” you talk about have an extremely deep and special meaning to us. There is much more to Greeks than parties and dating. You would do yourself some good to stop being so biased and ignorant and educate yourself on what being a member of the Greek system really means. As long as you go on how you are now, then you’re no better than the “biased & racist” Greeks you are lashing out at now.

Irish said...

Clarissa,

Fraternities and sororities are elitist by nature. One wonders if you are offended by elitism - my father was a college professor for many years and he certainly was. Although he was himself an elitist in many ways. He was constantly frustrated with the need to be carefully politically correct within the academic world. Look within yourself. If this is the source of your animosity - and I am not saying that it is - I would think you are being disingenuous.

Pagan Topologist said...

"As alumni..."

Not at all surprising, since they are the wealthiest students to begin with. I don't know any poor students who are working full time to go to college who belong to fraternities/sororities.

Clarissa said...

Anonymous: the racist incident I mentioned happened at a fraternity at the university when I teach. Please try to read what is being said before you make silly comments, OK?

If sitting on a beer keg for 48 hours has a deep and profound meaning for you, then that's your problem. Please don't expect the rest of the world to respect something like that.

Irish: any meaningful membership in an elite can only be deserved through one's own hard work and effort. A person whose daddy happens to be loaded is not a representative of any kind of an elite. That person is just a spoiled rich brat until they achieve something on their own.

As for ridiculous instances of political correctness on campus, I have criticized them exhaustively on this very blog. That topic, however, has nothing to do with what is being discussed in this thread.

Irish said...

In reviewing your blog, you pose the question: "Who needs fraternities if they cause ll these problems?"

The answer is that fraternities do not cause these problems. Such problems simply reflect society at large. When societal problems happen at a fraternity house, media outlets use that fact to get more mileage from the story.

Eyewitness: I once watched a television news crew trying to get film of a mobile home that had been rolled over by a tornado - while not showing farm house next door that had lost it's roof. Why you might ask? Because a mobile home damaged by a tornado is better news than a regular house damaged by a tornado.

MMM said...

Pagan Topologist:

I'm sure you know that some schools are much richer than others.

Well some students who attend Universities with less money have the opportunity to join the Greek system because the dues are much less.

Many of my sorority sisters work full time to pay for their own education as well as sorority dues. I myself have held a part-time job all through college (at one time two jobs at once) as well as being a full-time student with straight A's, an officer in my sorority, and a member of several other organizations.

The Greek system is NOT all the same. We vary from school to school. You cannot put one giant label or stereotype on any of us.

Irish said...

Clarissa,
visavis political correctness, I am chastised. Not germane.

visavis rich daddies, I didn't have one. I paid my way through engineering school and fraternity membership myself, thank you.

Clarissa said...

Irish: did you consider yourself a member of the elite when you were an undergrad?

Clarissa said...

"Many of my sorority sisters work full time to pay for their own education as well as sorority dues"

-Why was it so important for you to join it? What were the benefits?

I was never even tempted when I was a student because it felt like a huge waste of time to me.

Irish said...

In some senses, yes I did consider myself a member of the elite. Even then I understood that frats were elitist in nature and I was quite willing to join that group. But I am elite in other ways. I understand calculus. Believe me that is an elite. I am a geek who reads Feynman's lectures and physics books for pleasure. But this isn't really what you are asking I think. I think you mean did I consider myself a social elite? Was I a snob, in other words? Well, sometimes I was snobbish. 19 is kinda like that. Sometimes 50 is too. Over the years, though, I have found myself feeling more and more like a lottery winner to have the benefits and advantages I have had. I certainly did nothing to deserve to live in this day and age in this country with the access to good food, health care and education that I have. And the less judgmental I have become about other peoples' choices.

Katie said...

"Why was it so important for you to join it? What were the benefits?"

There are numerous reasons to join, although it isn't for everyone. For one, there is amazing opportunity to build and enhance social and professional networks. You have mentioned your frustration in seeking a job when there are internal candidates. A connection with a member of your organization can be a big help when applying for employment. Another reason is the opportunity to take on leadership roles with significant responsibility. Chapter leaders manage budgets of multiple thousands of dollars, plan events for hundreds, and depending on the campus, manage staff working in the physical house. These opportunities are not as readily available to non-Greeks. It is also fun! The expanded social networks mean opportunity to meet and socialize on a regular basis with a larger group of people than you can easily find outside of the Greek system. When done right, the Greek experience develops leaders, higher academic performance and fun.

Anonymous said...

I live in the city and very much doubt this a crime only about fraternity and sorotiy behavior. This mostly a drug related crime. The young of my town, mainly black an hispanic, are very poor and have little or no job opprotunity. Most are under educated do to a school system that for a varity of reasons no loneger can adequaty educate it youth. It lead to a generation of young men that are angry, disfranchised and little hope to a happy future. They turn to drugs, gangs and crime very young mostly stating in the middle school years . I live among this young people and hear them talking to each other there is a live and let die philsophy amongst them. This just antoher senseless shooting in the recnt history of once great city . This is a crime of angry troubled youth

Clarissa said...

"For one, there is amazing opportunity to build and enhance social and professional networks. You have mentioned your frustration in seeking a job when there are internal candidates. A connection with a member of your organization can be a big help when applying for employment."

-But that's a horrible thing! That's exactly what I'm saying here. Fraternities and sororities promote this horrible buddy-buddy mentality that excludes deserving candidates from employment in order to promote friends, drinking buddies, sex partners, and acquaintances. That's exactly how things were in the Soviet Union. If that's how things are, then let's call it "Soviet Life" instead of Greek life.

D said...

There seems to be an assumption by some in this discussion that binge drinking, date rape, drug abuse, academic cheating, etc. only happen in Greek organizations. The facts will reveal that these types of activities actually occur at a lesser frequency among Greeks than among student populations as a whole. If one wants to experience true elitism, take a look at most any university athletic team; if that doesn't work for you, try the faculty at most any Ivy League school - or other elite universities such as Duke, Emory or Johns Hopkins to name a few.

"A good training in bullying and dishonesty is, of course, crucial to becoming a Fortune 500 exec or a congress member. You will get no argument from me there."
A gratuitous assertion if ever there was one. It's just too bad that so many academic elites harbor such deeply entrenched bigotry toward Greeks that it makes objective analysis impossible.

Clarissa said...

"f one wants to experience true elitism, take a look at most any university athletic team; if that doesn't work for you, try the faculty at most any Ivy League school"

-I am personally and closely familiar with senior many faculty members at such universities as Yale and Cornell. And I have to say that you couldn't be more wrong. The most intelligent, high-achieving people and original thinkers do not come from rich families. Or didn't you know?

Most of my teachers and colleagues at those institutions were born to dirt-poor families.

Katie said...

It would be horrible if network connections were the only qualification for employment, but that simply isn't the case! Faced with two equally qualified candidates with the only difference being membership in my organization, I would choose the candidate who was a sorority sister. As a member, I know she has taken a vow to uphold the same values I have. I don't see how that is a problem. Is it frustrating for the non-member? Potentially, but they chose not to be a member of a Greek organization.

Irish said...

Oh Clarissa.

I grew up with the mind set that I was one of the haves, not one of the have-nots. We didn't have a lot, but this attitude makes all the difference.

Having said that, my parents divorced when I was 5, and mom moved back home to a small southern town with three rambunctious sons - in 1966. Without alimony since college professor didn't make much. She had no skills and no employment. She became a legal secretary. I remember as an 8 or 9 year old throwing out milk because she had mixed it with powdered milk to save money. So we were poor. But having that internal sense of being fortunate, of being a have, has nothing to do with actually having money. It has to do with self-worth. "Happiness is an Inside Jo
b".

Irish said...

"-I am personally and closely familiar with senior many faculty members at such universities as Yale and Cornell. And I have to say that you couldn't be more wrong."

Intellectuals are among the most elitist. Don't preach this nonsense to me, sister. Ol' Pop has a PhD in Philosophy from Notre Dame. I cut my milk teeth on this.

Irish said...

Oh, and little sis just got her PhD from Duke.

Pen said...

Katie, you say that connection with a fellow member of Greek life can help employment. I agree that it can help; however, I also agree with Clarissa. Do people honestly deserve that kind of advantage?

I'm an advocate of being able to prove your worth. For example, I'm a musician. As a member of an ensemble, I'm expected to uphold certain standards. I have to know my music. I have to get along with my peers.

If I had a connection with someone, and got into the ensemble because of that connection, and I was unable to prove that I could perform to the standards already set, then shouldn't someone else have gotten the position?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that sure, Greek life is a great social networking opportunity. But at the same time, it's like the easy way out. All candidates should be on even ground--they should all get the same kind of consideration before a decision is made, regardless of background.

MMM said...

Here is a list of positive headlines that Greeks have made in the news. Most of these are local or university papers, but it still shows the amount of positive press Greeks get. It's just not usually compelling enough to make national headlines.

http://www.greek101.com/lounge/news.php

Pagan Topologist said...

Irish: I fail to see how understanding calculus makes one in any sense a member of an elite. It is something almost anyone who wants to spend the time to do so can master.

Pen said...

Katie, what you just described is an instance of network connections being the only real qualification for employment. If there are two "equal" candidates, then both should be brought back for extra interviews. If I can get someone who actually knows me to speak for me, then my employer had better be able to witness these virtues themselves. But if a decision is made simply on the basis of Greek life, then you're undermining the chances of a person who may have much more solid character references behind them.

Greek life is simply no excuse to get a job where another candidate may be more qualified. If, however, you yourself can provide a detailed character reference, then the situation is obviously a bit different.

I'd also like to point out that the values people involved in Greek life pledge to uphold are very similar to those of the National Honor Society at the high school level. Students in NHS are held to certain standards, but that doesn't mean that a member is more qualified for a job than a non-member.

Clarissa said...

"ntellectuals are among the most elitist. Don't preach this nonsense to me, sister. Ol' Pop has a PhD in Philosophy from Notre Dame. I cut my milk teeth on this."

-And all of the leading academics at you institution were from extremely rich families??

Clarissa said...

"Faced with two equally qualified candidates with the only difference being membership in my organization, I would choose the candidate who was a sorority sister."

-That's called corruption. It is no different from offering employment to a candidate because they are your family member or a former lover. "If he slept with me, he must have very good taste, so of course, he'll make a better employee" could be the reasoning.

It's sad that people are so open about being corrupt. It's like there is no shame attached to it any more.

profacero said...

Well my mother had terrible trouble getting into a sorority because of her too obviously Jewish name. This was just after WWII. The point of being in one was, for her, the social network. You have fun in college, ski trips and so on, and you can meet fraternity men who are poised to do well in life, and make a good match.

I didn't have the money / interest to be in a sorority but some friends did, and as faculty I've attended some Greek functions. Women learn a great deal about the "right" kind of femininity, how to host a large party, how to engage everyone and make all guests feel comfortable, and so on. I am not saying this isn't useful, it's just that it corresponds to certain life goals and not others.

Students in Greek organizations are often good students nowadays. This is true of athletes as well. The stereotype of the sorority girl / fraternity man / athlete as a poor student who only "parties" is out of date largely, although there are people who fit it.

My male students join fraternities for companionship, and to meet girls, and for business connections. They really do get the business and professional connections. But the whole thing is a certain kind of business world, gendered in a certain way, and a lot of what the Greek system does is teach people how to perform gender in fairly traditional ways. This is why, when things go south at a frat house, it's in stereotyped male goonish ways. When things go well you get competent, nice, smooth young ladies and gentlemen. But I repeat: this all follows certain rather traditional race / class / gender expectations, and it corresponds to the aspirations of certain layers of the upper middle class business types. Think Rotary Club. I'm not saying these things are bad, mind you -- I'm just saying they are supporting and replicating certain aspects and traditions of US society.

Clarissa said...

" a lot of what the Greek system does is teach people how to perform gender in fairly traditional ways"

-How horrible! I'm really learning a lot from this discussion.

profacero said...

P.S. Good point on corruption.

Katie said...

"Katie, you say that connection with a fellow member of Greek life can help employment. I agree that it can help; however, I also agree with Clarissa. Do people honestly deserve that kind of advantage?"

First of all, what would you suggest as an alternative? That I turn down jobs and opportunities when they come from my personal network? These connections are the way of the world. You can choose to take advantage of them or you can choose not to, but they still exist.

And secondly, anyone can choose to build networks or they can choose not to. If you choose not to, that's fine, but you cant complain when others utilize what they have worked to build to have success in life.

Clarissa said...

"What is the alternative? Refusing bribes just because a person is smart enough to offer them? Anyone can choose to give a bribe. If you choose not to, that's fine, but you can't complain when others utilize what they have worked to build to have success in life."

Katie said...

"That's called corruption. It is no different from offering employment to a candidate because they are your family member or a former lover."

It is not corruption, it is smart hiring. The hiring and training process is very expensive. If I can remove some of the unknown about a candidate because they are a sorority sister or I know them, I can eliminate more of the chance of making a bad hire and having to repeat that expense.

Clarissa said...

"If I can remove some of the unknown about a candidate because they are a sorority sister or I know them, I can eliminate more of the chance of making a bad hire and having to repeat that expense."

-"If I can remove some of the unknown about a candidate because he slept with me, I can eliminate more of the chance of making a bad hire and having to repeat that expense."

Katie said...

"What is the alternative? Refusing bribes just because a person is smart enough to offer them? Anyone can choose to give a bribe. If you choose not to, that's fine, but you can't complain when others utilize what they have worked to build to have success in life."

My goodness Clarissa, dramatic much? Using personal networks is hardly the same as offering or accepting a bribe!

panda bear said...

Dear Clarissa,

I go to YSU. Hearing about this shooting was a major disappointment to me and many other students and Youngstown residents. I don't completely agree with sororities or fraternities in many senses.. But you are very ignorant to believe that fraternities are the reason for violence in Youngstown. We have shootings here on average 20 times a year at least, and 10 of them end up being homicides. Youngstown is home to many gangs and other types of violence and illegal activities. You would know this if you had done extensive research before posting your blog.

I know fraternities can be seen as immature and problematic, and even sororities, but if you look into the students in these organizations they are usually at the top of the class, they often lead other charity organizations and it's a great social activity among students.

I understand you are trying to have a good argument, but I stamp this one as a failed attempt.

Clarissa said...

"My goodness Clarissa, dramatic much? Using personal networks is hardly the same as offering or accepting a bribe!"

-No, it's not. It's called nepotism, and it's disgusting and morally wrong.

If a friend happened to apply to my department, I would inform the search committee that I have a conflict of interest and refuse to be part of the search committee. If I stayed and promoted my buddy's interests, I wouldn't be able to respect myself after that. And I wouldn't hide behind the empty verbiage about "personal networks" or "sexual networks".

Apparently, such values were not taught at your sorority.

Meghan said...

Honestly. If you know nothing about the area or don't live in or near it don't speculate about it. Those saying that the campus has a high crime rate are quite incorrect. Intact they just said on a press conference that YSU has a LOW crime rate and is improving the crime rate of the surrounding community. Yes youngstown is known for having a Hugh crime rate but the university itself and surrounding area is not a bad part of town! It was a spur of the moment party, 2 people were ejected from the party and shortly after returned and began firing. So honestly if you know absolutely nothing about what transpired dot blog about it!!!

Meghan said...

Honestly. If you know nothing about the area or don't live in or near it don't speculate about it. Those saying that the campus has a high crime rate are quite incorrect. Intact they just said on a press conference that YSU has a LOW crime rate and is improving the crime rate of the surrounding community. Yes youngstown is known for having a Hugh crime rate but the university itself and surrounding area is not a bad part of town! It was a spur of the moment party, 2 people were ejected from the party and shortly after returned and began firing. So honestly if you know absolutely nothing about what transpired dot blog about it!!!

Katie said...

And I wouldn't hide behind the empty verbiage about "personal networks" or "sexual networks".

Clarissa, I have never once referenced sexual networks. It is you who seems hung up on them. Perhaps your dislike of networks comes from your own feelings of inadequacy in developing them for yourself.

Meghan said...

Also. YSU has a VERY strict NO HAZING POLICY!!!

Meghan said...

Also. YSU has a VERY strict NO HAZING POLICY!!!

Clarissa said...

Yes, Katie, I am completely inadequate in terms of corruption. It makes me recoil in disgust. I kind of believe in honesty and integrity, those old-fashioned things that you were taught at your sorority to sacrifice in such a cavalier way to your strange vision of success.

I couldn't have made a better case against sororities if I tried. Thank you for showing all of us how sororities breed corruption.

Clarissa said...

" YSU has a LOW crime rate and is improving the crime rate of the surrounding community. Yes youngstown is known for having a Hugh crime rate but the university itself and surrounding area is not a bad part of town! It was a spur of the moment party, 2 people were ejected from the party and shortly after returned and began firing. So honestly if you know absolutely nothing about what transpired dot blog about it!!!"

-When did I ever blog about YSU's crime rate??? Or Youngstown's "good" or "bad" parts of town?

People seem to have started talking to themselves, which is never a good thing in any thread.

profacero said...

There is a difference between networking and nepotism but not everyone realizes this. There was a scandal at my university a while ago, when the President was discovered to have made sure all scholarship money from a certain fund went to members of his own fraternity. Networking, to him and them, but the donor and the ethics board called it nepotism and corruption.

Clarissa said...

profacero: I just imagined what a hiring committee based on fraternity membership would look like.

"Let's hire candidate X. She's from my sorority."

"No, candidate Y is SO much better because he's from my fraternity and my fraternity is tons better than your stupid sorority."

"Oh, shut up you both. We'll hire candidate Z who's from my fraternity which is miles ahead of your stupid sororities."

Kyle said...

I haven't read the past 82 comments, so I don't know where mine falls in context. I just wanted to say that I joined my fraternity because I liked the communal living aspect of it, and it provided me with a way to do some really effective community service and philanthropy.

The Animal House stereotype isn't completely unwarranted, much of Greek life is based around socializing. But I haven't seen any evidence that the problems found in Greek life are any more likely to happen there than among non-Greek students. At least, on my campus, Greeks (1/3 of the campus body), had higher GPAs and did more philanthropy on average. After joining my frat, my own GPA went up .6, and stayed high enough for the following semesters that I was able to graduate magna cum laude. Obviously correlation doesn't mean causation, but I knew I had another activity on my plate, so I needed to buckle down more with my work.

A lot of Greek students have managed to give Greek life a bad reputation, which I think is unfortunate, as doing so goes against the values of philanthropy and communal living that their institutions are supposed to embody. But I don't see how Greeks should be disproportionately criticized for problems that are just as likely to be caused by non-Greeks. (I'm willing to be convinced if anybody has a good statistic. Anyone?)

(I'll concede that I have a problem with the inherent sexism of Greek institutions. All of the frats at my undergrad were relatively diverse and notably tolerant in terms of race and sexuality. But, as a feminist, I had trouble joining a group that excluded membership according to sex. A lot of the guys in my frat were close with the sorority with a reputation of being feminist. Like me, my friends in that sorority never came to terms with that hypocrisy, but joined because they felt other factors outweighed. So, I concede that Greek institutions are somewhat sexist, and that I'm a hypocrite in this sense, in my defense of Greek life...)

profacero said...

Yeah. Networking would be more like, if you're your sorority / fraternity siblings in the new town put you up while you look for an apartment, stuff like that.

I job searches, some candidates always have special ways of getting inside info. They may have friends through all sorts of possible connections. But if you're on a search committee you have to be aware of conflicts of interest. What some people on this thread are recommending as good business practice is in fact unethical, even when not actionable.

Pen said...

Profacero, I agree. Networking would be me bringing my friend to the attention of someone with more influence (which even then, I'd be wary of doing). But I can't vouch for them like some people are stating, or hire them myself. Like Clarissa said, that would be a conflict of interest.

I'll repeat: Greek life is no excuse to get a job where another candidate might be better qualified.

D said...

"-I am personally and closely familiar with senior many faculty members at such universities as Yale and Cornell. And I have to say that you couldn't be more wrong. The most intelligent, high-achieving people and original thinkers do not come from rich families. Or didn't you know?
Most of my teachers and colleagues at those institutions were born to dirt-poor families."

e·lit·ism: consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group. (Source: Random House Dictionary)

I suppose I didn't make myself clear - personal or family wealth was not intended to be a factor in my statement. The two examples of elite groups I used are quite aware of their respective exclusivity. If one happens to be in their company and are not "one of them", they will certainly be made aware of their lack of qualifications.
Regarding the family financial status of the faculty members at Yale, Cornell or other Ivy League schools - I can't help but be skeptical toward the claim that a considerable percentage of them were born "dirt poor". However, I'll gladly defer to your more extensive knowledge in this subject matter.

Another point regarding the "networking" or "nepotism" advantage from belonging to Greek organizations: most members of fraternities and sororities have an advantage in connections when they graduate because they are able to develop more close and lasting relationships with people in their own age group while in college. This also happens with any other group that maintains a stable membership over a four or five year period. The fact that they might get preference in certain employment situations because they have a personal relationship with someone of influence is not fair. Welcome to reality - life is not fair, and sometimes neither is human nature. Besides, most employment situations don't involve search committees like the ones used in colleges and universities. Most hiring decisions are made by one or two individuals evaluating qualifications and the personal chemistry that happens during the interview process.

Clarissa said...

"Besides, most employment situations don't involve search committees like the ones used in colleges and universities. "

-In his thread we are very specifically discussing academic hiring which Katie brought up in regards to my post on internal candidates: http://clarissasbox.blogspot.com/2011/01/internal-candidates.html

I'd rather not expand the thread more than it needs to by introducing extraneous subjects.

If I promote a buddy for a hire at my department and the Chancellor of our university finds out, I will be out on my ass extremely fast. And talk of how "life isn't fair" will not prevent me from being fired for corruption and dishonesty and getting blacklisted everywhere else.

Of course, people still do such things but I consider them to be horrible, nasty individuals.

I would not want to be hired because I'm somebody's friend, lover, or relative. That would be beyond humiliating. I only want to be hired because I'm the best qualified candidate of all. But I guess not everybody is as secure in their achievements.

Pen said...

"Another point regarding the "networking" or "nepotism" advantage from belonging to Greek organizations: most members of fraternities and sororities have an advantage in connections when they graduate because they are able to develop more close and lasting relationships with people in their own age group while in college."

-I would like to point out that in many scenarios, the candidate does not know the employer. But as soon as either individual finds out about Greek backgrounds, they are automatically double-checked, because the employer was part of the same fraternity/sorority as the candidate.

So no, it's not always about "connections" or "networking."

Anonymous said...

I would just like to make a comment on the elitist nature of college professors. It is almost inherent, whether or not you flaunt it, as a university professor, especially PhD you are among an elite group of people. There is a reason why it is difficult to obtain a PhD and most people choose not to pursue one. It is a mark of hard work and intellectual achievement. Some professors definitely take on the attitude that they are much more intelligent than other people. Other professors show more humility. No matter how you choose to express this, having a PhD in conjunction with your name makes you part of an elite, a select group. Obviously this has been done through personal accomplishment, but you cannot deny that this is not an elitist group. I am not making the claim that all university professors have an elitist attitude. As the child of a professor, a college graduate, and a person interested in pursuing my PhD in the near future, I know for a fact that there are professors out there who do take on this elitist attitude. Taking the definition of elite as "the choice part, the best of a class, the socially superior part of society, a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exert much power or influence" college professors as a group can be described by three out of the four. So please do not make the claim that university professors are not an elite group.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elite

Clarissa said...

Anonymous: you are confusing two different words, "elite" and "elitist." Here are their definitions for you:

Elite means "the choice or best of anything".

Elitist means someone who believes "certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority"

Do you see the difference?

Of course, many college professors belong to the intellectual elite. That, however, does not mean they are elitist.

Anonymous said...

"a lot of what the Greek system does is teach people how to perform gender in fairly traditional ways"

As a member of a sorority I can honestly say my experience did not teach me much about traditional gender roles at all. Actually, it was quite the opposite. As an engineering major (a very male dominated field), I was one of four women in my mechanical engineering class. Being a part of a sorority helped to empower me to be at the top of my class, to show the men that I studied along side that engineering does not have to be such of a boys club. My sisters constantly encouraged me in my achievements. I never once felt the pressures to be fulfilling a more traditional gender role. I spent time at sorority activities, professional engineering organizations, reading marvel comics, playing my guitar, singing, running half marathons. The sorority I was in encouraged each woman to be an individual and to reach their full potential in every aspect of their life. It is no coincidence that I ended up graduating number one in my mechanical engineering class, and number two overall in the college of engineering. My sorority sisters helped encourage me along the way, and helped to feed my own determination.

Anonymous said...

"Elitist means someone who believes "certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority"
Do you see the difference?"

I see the difference. As a university professor yourself, you must have come across at least a few other professors who are elitist based on their accomplishments. I have only been a student, and I have been in classes with elitist and sexist professors, who seem to have a superiority complex just because they have a PhD attached to their name. I am not lumping all professors into this category, or even faculties from specific institutions. It is an individual attitude that some people choose to express, but it is not an attitude shared by everyone belonging to that group. By this same argument it seems unfair that you have lumped the entire Greek life system into the mold of being "elitist". Again, as a student I have experienced Greek students who have elitist attitudes based on their involvement in sororities and fraternities. Yet it is not true of every friend I had during my undergraduate years who were members of the Greek system.

Clarissa said...

Actually, Anonymous, you are the one who's lumping me together with other commenters. I am not the one who said at any point that fraternities ans sororities are elitist. Commenter Irish (who is actually a defender of fraternities) did when he said the following: "Fraternities and sororities are elitist by nature." Maybe you should take your objections to him.

It's kind of annoying to be accused of things OTHER PEOPLE have said.

David said...

I'd say when it comes down to it, I probably agree that the shooting isn't an indicator of some greater problem from greeks.

I've probably come to this conclusion simply from the fact that we're dealing with individual news reports and vague associations. The simplest explanation for this shooting (to me, and this may be different for other people) is that a few things combined for explosive results:

1. Someone got angry
2. Someone had access to a gun
3. Someone had poor impulse control, or had their inhibitions lessened by alcohol.

For greeks to have been a factor here, it would have been necessary for the circumstances of the altercation to be unique to greeks. Unfortunately, the circumstances of "altercations and alcohol" are not foreign to any college campus in the U.S.

I remember when Columbine happened and commentators ended up trying to latch onto videogames as one of the causes of the violence there. I recall that as an epic fail.

I'm not saying that this is an epic fail, just that I think you may have missed the mark here Clarissa.

and as full disclosure: I've never been part of a greek and my campus was strictly non greek. I don't even particularly like greeks and I feel somewhat abashed that I'm bothering to defend them.

Clarissa said...

Would you feel the same way if you heard a nasty story about a fraternity/sorority every couple of weeks? For years? For decades?

A time comes when one is forced to draw conclusions on the basis of thousands of individual stories.

Anonymous said...

i'm confused. is there a reason you all used nearly 100 comments debating the utility of fraternities (the "animal house" image, as you've discussed), when the fraternity in question is omega psi phi? this is a historically-black greek organization, which has its own history, merits, and issues that are VERY different than predominately-white organizations in the IFC. you might want to begin your debate again from there.

Clarissa said...

Please pay attention. In this thread we discussed a variety of different fraternities and sororities across the US and Canada. There is no single "fraternity in question" here.

Anonymous said...

that's why it doesn't fit that you're talking about old boys' clubs, the fortune 500, etc. from a situation that involved a historically-black fraternity. you quoted one source that mentioned their emphasis on community service, but why even link the article to the debate if they have nothing to do with each other?

Clarissa said...

Anonymous: you need to make clear where your comment is addressed, otherwise I think you address it to me, the blog owner. And I didn't link to any article on anybody's emphasis on community service.

Kyle said...

"Would you feel the same way if you heard a nasty story about a fraternity/sorority every couple of weeks? For years? For decades?"


This coming from a blog that has criticized media coverage of thousands of other issues. My post got lost in a discussion about hiring connections. (From what I read, I agree with you there, Clarissa--I turned down a somewhat prestigious offer from a prominent member of my fraternity because I didn't agree with some of the work he was doing. I think I would have felt a little humiliated accepting work I didn't agree with and didn't truly earn.) But I think the heart of my argument (which is a modest one, and pretty critical of Greek life) is correct: Nothing Greek life is being accused of is unique to Greek life, and you can't judge an entire group by the actions of the few.

Just check out colleceacb.com or collegehumor.com and you'll find pretty quickly that the "Animal House" image has no affiliation.

Anonymous said...

@Clarissa: i'll try this again.

you quoted one source...

[in this comment] Clarissa said...
There is this interesting book on the inner workings of sororities:
blahblahblah... Historically black sororities, which are not the focus of this book, do have a reputation for promoting community service and sisterhood


that mentioned their [historically-black orgs'] emphasis on community service,

but why even link the article [detailing a shooting at a historically-black frat's house] to the debate if they have nothing to do with each other?

Clarissa said...

Kyle: what media coverage are we talking about? I think I made it pretty clear that every single case of nastiness in fraternities that I narrated here is something that I witnessed/heard/seen in person on campuses where I either studied or worked. The most recent case happened less than two weeks ago at the university where I work right now. I don't think it even made it in the media because everything is being kept very hush-hush.

"But I think the heart of my argument (which is a modest one, and pretty critical of Greek life) is correct: Nothing Greek life is being accused of is unique to Greek life"

-I have never had a student wrapped in a sheet or a student in boxers in my classroom who were not in fraternities/sororities. I also never heard from a non-fraternity student that he can't perform his work in class because he sat on a beer keg for 48 hours.

And please don't tell me this is anecdotal evidence. Since you reject media coverage of this issue as biased, there is pretty much nothing else left than everybody's personal experiences.

One day I'll write about college athletics. That will really make everybody angry. . . :-)

Clarissa said...

The debate has a higher degree of abstraction than an individual case at an individual fraternity.

Anonymous said...

@Clarissa: yeah, but a higher degree of abstraction might also include a variety of issues concerning historically-black, latino and asian organizations as well as those concerning predominately-white orgs. which it doesn't here. as i said, there lots of merits to minority orgs and lots of different issues at hand.

you can't simply dismiss ALL fraternities and sororities on the same basis, when minority orgs have enabled the rise of a black middle class in the past century (a phenomenon that is, of course, not without its own issues of elitism, etc.) in this country.

the debate, already petty and relying on stereotypes and your pre-existing biases (do you believe students shouldn't have lives outside your coursework schedule?), completely excludes very relevant information.

i know you'll just misunderstand/dismiss me hastily, so no need to respond. i'm done.

Irish said...

Clarissa,
I would like to direct your attention back to my earliest post, in which I touched on just a few of the good works of my fraternity brothers. Missionaries. Responsible Army Officers. Vastly increased scholarship opportunities. A huge change in the culture of these student organizations over the past 30 years. Where is the love? Where is the tolerance for the choices of others?

Clarissa said...

Irish: if you enter the words "tolerance" and "choices" into the search box, you will see how much time I have spent on this blog making fun of these concepts. :-)

profacero said...

"Fraternities and sororities are elitist by nature." Yes, that's how they fit into the culture generally, and it's what they were created for: to help reproduce certain elites. That doesn't mean everything they do is bad, and a lot of them are certainly much more progressive than a generation or two ago.

(There is a little confusion in part of this thread, by the way, between elitism and elite - they don't always coincide, as someone has already suggested.)

Technically I guess, one could say they are a kind of mutual aid society. Most traditionally in US colleges and universities, they were what you joined, if you could, to make social connections that would be useful in your business life and yes, they were largely associated with the conventional elites.

It costs money to join and typically you have to have a certain kind of background. The activities cost money, too -- you have to dress and so on.

Remember the concept of the "gentleman's C"? A gentleman, comes from wealth and will have a position. The idea is, you pass classes in college but don't have to work for As, your job is to pass but also to move in society. This is where the "partying" image comes from ... and some of the high jinks people engaged in because they could.

V said...

Katie
---I have read the stories, and as someone who works for a national headquarters organization and is a member of the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, I have extensive experience with the Greek system.

I believe it also means that you will never, under any circumstances, tell/write anything which even remotely resembles the criticism of the Greek system. Because if you do, and your colleagues or bosses find out, you will be out of your job at a national headquarters (which comes with certain political ambitions, I suppose? :) ) and all your early age networking through sororities will be in vain.

Lets discuss the benefits of transgenic crops with a press-secretary of Monsanto Inc... :) :)

This is one of those times when I have this evil urge to invent some argument for the sake of seeing how far one can push you into taking even more unethical stances out of loyalty to your job...
But I will resist it. :)

Irish said...

Clarissa,

Once again I will answer your question directly:

"Who needs fraternities if they cause all these problems?"

"The answer is that fraternities do not cause these problems. Such problems simply reflect society at large. When societal problems happen at a fraternity house, media outlets use that fact to get more mileage from the story. "

To wit: I watched a news story last night after the game. It was an expose' about sex trafficking of 13 year old girls through internet advertising - in every major city in the US.

And 18 year olds with hangovers and silly clothing rituals is your problem?

The Bottom Line: You are annoyed that here you are spending your indispensable time to share your incredible knowledge and insights with these little cretins and they would rather get drunk and screw.

Get over yourself.

Kyle said...

My last comment didn't get posted along with the previous couple. I can't imagine it having been offensive or anything, so I'm guessing it just didn't get through from my end. I'll paraphrase what I had.

I'm fine with your use of anecdotes, Clarissa, but I don't think your inferences from them follow. While you've complained about substance abuse issues among Greeks, you posted a few days ago about how shocked you were when students admitted to using caffeine pills and ADD medication without prescriptions. You've also complained about academic disruptions such as plagiarism, but how many of the plagiarizers were Greek? Your recalcitrant grad student, being a grad student, also wasn't Greek. While you have plenty of recollections about Greek students disrupting the academic setting, you haven't explained what makes their disruptions worse--especially if nobody's been able to provide evidence that they do worse academically.

The problem with making broad-brush arguments from personal experience alone is that, inevitably, you have to address the anecdotes of others. If your anecdotes regarding affiliated students are negative, and others' are of philanthropy and communal living, then (barring intellectual solipsism) somewhere in the middle you can only conclude that, like anything else, there's some good and some bad to the institution. While I very much enjoy your blog because it's provocative, I do see a potential downside if your desire to generate responses means having to advance arguments you cannot defend logically.

For what it's worth, I'd probably agree with you about college athletes. I don't care what they do outside the classroom, but I had a lot of trouble with the way my own undergrad provided generous financial aid to athletes at the expense of merit and need based aid, but I suppose that's a topic for another post--I look forward to reading it!

profacero said...

P.S. I have now followed the link to the Yale story and it really makes the argument. Yes, frats really do give training in these sorts of attitude and yes, that does support and help replicate mainstream culture. And also yes, that is why I wouldn't date or wouldn't have dated a fraternity man, etc.

Irish said...

Pagan Topologist:

"Irish: I fail to see how understanding calculus makes one in any sense a member of an elite. It is something almost anyone who wants to spend the time to do so can master."

I am afraid I must disagree. I have found the fundamental concepts of calculus and differential equations require a capacity for abstract thought that is the intellect of many people. Memorizing tables of integral and differential forms does not equal understanding.

Clarissa said...

"The Bottom Line: You are annoyed that here you are spending your indispensable time to share your incredible knowledge and insights with these little cretins and they would rather get drunk and screw. "

-Once again you are making my argument for me. :-) So people in sororities and fraternities have no interest in school, studies, intellectual achievement? Nothing interests them but sex and alcohol? Well, if you say so.

Irish said...

Gee Clarissa, Satire much?

Once again you duck the issue and offer gratuitous comments. Greek fraternities and sororities aren't the cause of the problem.

But I think I stated YOUR attitudes succinctly, and the cause of YOUR problem with the greek societies. YOUR need to be the center of attention. It has become clear from your comments that the fact is that YOU feel disrespected when YOU are not treated as the Great Goddess Clarissa before whom these undergraduates should bow is awe. The Gospel According To Clarissa! But in fact, you aren't the center of these young peoples lives, you are irrelevant. One more liberal arts instructor who compensates for her insecurities about her profession by puffing up with her own importance.

It's pomposity and moral arrogance that makes you irrelevant in the lives of these young people. Try instead to be a friend who is non-judgmental about their struggles to fit in and find their path in life. You might actually learn to like them.

Clarissa said...

Irish: there is no need to worry so much. :-) My students adore me and my student evaluations are consistently extremely high. So you can rest easy, my friend. My classes are not in any danger of becoming depopulated because of fraternities and sororities. :-)

Irish said...

"there is no need to worry so much. :-) My students adore me and my student evaluations are consistently extremely high. So you can rest easy, my friend. My classes are not in any danger of becoming depopulated because of fraternities and sororities. :-) "

Indeed. I am happy for you. I truly hope your students do adore you, but not for your prejudice against those who make choices with which you do not agree.

Anonymous said...

Why are fraternities/sororities divided by gender, anyway?

That's one of the top reasons I'd never join one.


-Mike

Anonymous said...

Mike,

That seems to me to be the only legitimate criticism of greek life. Instead, people have been throwing around other concerns that they cannot logically back up. The last comment I put up shot those concerns down, but nobody's been able to respond to them. But kudos for bringing up a criticism that can actually be logically supported.

Kyle said...

Sorry, Mike, I didn't put my name for that comment.

Clarissa said...

"My last comment didn't get posted along with the previous couple. I can't imagine it having been offensive or anything, so I'm guessing it just didn't get through from my end."

-I have no idea where that comment went.

" While you have plenty of recollections about Greek students disrupting the academic setting, you haven't explained what makes their disruptions worse"

-Yes, I have. Grad students are indispensable, while fraternities are not.

"while others' are of philanthropy and communal living"

-I don't see how such things are important for college life.

"I do see a potential downside if your desire to generate responses means having to advance arguments you cannot defend logically"

-I had absolutely no idea that such a short post would make so many people want to respond. I never manage to guess which posts will be popular. So this is not about generating responses. I honestly don't understand why college life has to be polluted with so much completely extraneous, distracting, useless stuff. It's like it isn't about learning any more. I had a student request being allowed to miss two midterms because she was participating in beauty pageants. I let her go, of course. But it's beyond weird to me that people would skip classes for such ridiculous reasons. But it's to be expected since there is this whole culture of academics always coming in last.

Kyle said...

"Grad students are indispensable, while fraternities are not."

But this shouldn't make a grad student receive less criticism if an affiliated undergrad does the same. And how is an unaffiliated undergrad who disrupts a class or abuses substances not as bad as an affiliated undergrad who does the same? I'm waiting for this logical gap to be filled.


"I don't see how such things are important for college life."

So you think that universities should devote no money towards benefiting the cities where they reside? That students should remain as part of a campus bubble. Having grown up in New Haven, I had a clear understanding of the fact that people divided the city into "the Yale part" and "the bad part," which surrounded Yale. It's cool if you liked the Yale bubble when you went (and you've criticized it on this blog, so I know you didn't), but, when I left CT to go to college, I was annoyed that my undergrad didn't have great opportunities for students to contribute to the community. Through my fraternity, I volunteered at a battered women's shelter. Universities make pretty strong claims about the importance of community service, and they should. Unless you like college bubbles.


Personally, I don't think you should have let the girl go for her pageant, and I get your frustration. The way I see it is that academics should come first at an academic institution. Even the most rigorous universities recognize the importance of extracurricular activities, both for the students' overall well-being as well as for the benefit of the university. So long as those activities don't place academics second, why are the activities bad?

Clarissa said...

"But this shouldn't make a grad student receive less criticism if an affiliated undergrad does the same."

-Less criticism?? I have written 5 posts on my bad grad student and only 1 on fraternities. I have also written dozens of posts that are critical of all kinds of undergrads. Fraternities have only been mentioned once on this entire blog. So I don't think I'm being unfair. The logical gap here is not mine, Kyle. You seem to believe that if there are several sources of a particular ill, then removing just one of these sources is somehow wrong. This attitude, though, will paralyze every useful change. Why not address problems one by one? It will definitely be more useful than engaging in wholesale bemoaning of diminishing academic standards that so many people seem to enjoy.

I still fail to understand why universities that are in such bad financial circumstances that they never know if they will be able to pay faculty salaries each coming month need to waste resources on fraternities. What is it that we are paying for exactly? And how is it beneficial to the wider academic community?

"So long as those activities don't place academics second, why are the activities bad?"

-First of all, they often do. And, as I said, I prefer that college resources go to actual student organizations that have a verifiable mission statement and that organize important cultural and intellectual activities on campus.

As for whether Yale should invest in the surrounding community, that's truly a topic for another post. It is a very complex issue that deserves not to be treated in passing.

As for your work at the battered women shelter, that's truly admirable. Are people somehow prevented from doing such valuable work if they are not in a fraternity, though?

Kyle said...

"You seem to believe that if there are several sources of a particular ill, then removing just one of these sources is somehow wrong."

No. I'm saying that you haven't demonstrated how fraternities are a source of the problem if these are problems that undergrads commit to the same degree. This has been my point pretty consistently, and you haven't addressed it.



Additionally, you mention that universities are wasting money on fraternities. If any university has spent any amount on Greek life, then I agree with you that that should be stopped. At my school (and most of the schools I'm familiar with that have Greek life), the institutions are privately run (usually their houses are privately owned, too), and money is raised by alumni. (One incentive I had to join my fraternity was that housing costs were lower than those of a college dorm. It was lower enough that I paid less for school as a Greek than before.) There isn't a need for universities to enter into that equation; I'm with you there.

As far as my experiences have gone, students are encouraged by their fraternities/sororities to do community service. All of the chapters on my campus (and I believe this is true of Greek institutions as a whole), require a certain amount of hours from each affiliated student. Oftentimes, as happened at my school, the university increases the amount of required hours each student must commit.

Something that annoyed me as an undergrad is that some students didn't take the philanthropy aspect seriously. Every once in a while I read articles about a frat at a different school pulling off some bogus stunt to raise money (and usually didn't raise that much). My fraternity didn't have a big problem with a lack of commitment--those who tried to avoid giving hours were fined accordingly--but I suppose the work they put in reflects on how they imagine Greek life is or is supposed to be. I have no problem with universities cracking down on Greek life for not doing promised activities (or, worse, for breaking the law), but, if the stated goals of those institutions are commendable (or even neutral), then colleges should respond to problems on a case-by-case basis instead of attacking the entire system.

Clarissa said...

I think that the comments left by Katie - who is a strong supporter of the sorority system, by the way - offer ample proof that this is a system that breeds dishonesty and corruption, that actually promotes them as valuable and good. Yes, non-fraternity students cheat too, but here we have entire college-sponsored organizations that promote this.

Then we had Irish - another firm believer in fraternities - who stated that these organizations are elitist in nature. Again, you can be elitist without being part of a fraternity, but here we have entire college-sponsored organizations that promote elitism as a value.

I believe that forcing people to do charitable work against their will makes the whole concept of charity a joke.

So once again, I have to repeat my question: what is the point of having fraternities at all?

brittanyannwick said...

To all the Greek supporters:

You're lauding the volunteer work of your fraternities and sororities. But that volunteering is required for continued membership. I don't really see that as laudable. Sure, put it on your resume, but organizing a blood drive means very little if you are forced to, and when you've also organized a greek-wide mud wrestling tournament and drinking binges.

I wasn't a greek, clearly. But I had friends who were, and they told me a lot of things that non-members aren't supposed to know.

Like the extensive rules and restrictions placed on members, right down to the posture members must take while they're smoking a cigarette. Or how members aren't supposed to stay overnight at their partner's place. Most of these aren't enforced unless you've pissed off the chair of the rules committee, though. See, that networking Katie spoke of is already bearing fruit!

Let me tell you about the greeks at my university. One is known as "the pot-head fraternity." Another, "the fraternity of rapists." Yet another fraternity: "the goat-f*ckers." One sorority, "Chi-Hoes." Another, the snob who won't have anything to do with someone outside their sorority. Yes, you may have a high GPA, but wouldn't those required study hours in The Learning Center account for that? A high GPA means nothing if your don't actually learn anything save how to party.

The social aspect isn't very laudable, either, considering you have to pay thousands of dollars to join, and your organization discourages socialization with "independents."

I could go on. I agree with Clarissa. Greek organizations drain resources while giving college students a bad reputation.

Irish said...

Clarissa:

"So once again, I have to repeat my question: what is the point of having fraternities at all?"

Nope. That was not your original question. I have directly addressed your original question multiple times and you have yet to respond. Disappointing but no surprise I guess.

I took you up on your offer and searched your blog for 'tolerances' and 'choices'. What I found was someone who is very convinced of the universal correctness and superiority of her own moral code. Didn't the definition of elitism contain something about this? It certainly jives with the definition of arrogance:

World English Dictionary
arrogant — adj
having or showing an exaggerated opinion of one's own importance, merit, ability, etc; conceited; overbearingly proud: an arrogant teacher ; an arrogant assumption


"A person unlearns arrogance when he knows he is always among worthy human beings; being alone fosters presumption. Young people are arrogant because they always associate with their own peers, those who are all really nothing but who would like to be very important." - Nietzsche

Get out of the ivory tower, Clarissa!

Clarissa said...

Yes, I do prefer my moral code to that of Nietzsche. :-)

I also believe that I have the right to express my own opinions on my own blog, and people who don't like these opinions aren't really forced to stick around or anything.

brittanyannwick said...

I find it very amusing, Irish, that you're quoting the dictionary to a college professor. A professor of literature, at that.

Kyle said...

"So once again, I have to repeat my question: what is the point of having fraternities at all?"

It's a support system created by a free association of students. What's wrong with that? I don't think those examples you point out are unique to the Greek system: people frequently promote their own for plenty of reasons (consider the way that people in business promote employees from their alma matter, and the way that colleges have alumni career fares). It goes against meritocracy when fraternities do it, sure, but it does when anybody does it for any reason, and you haven't shown that it's more likely to happen on the basis of fraternity than on the basis of alma matter, or, for that matter, religion/race/ etc.

I honestly didn't understand the little I skimmed of Irish's argument. The impression I got was that he conflated "elitism" and "elite." Then he quoted Nietzsche. I can't imagine Nietzsche popping his collar and downing a Natty. Can you elaborate on this elitism argument? Fraternities are supposed to promote community engagement and service; that hardly seems elitist (or Nietzschean?) to me.

And the students aren't doing charity against their will. They know the institution's requirements before joining. For me, I liked the required hours. I know that, on my own, I needed the extra push to make the time for it. Some people like that sense of structure. What's wrong with that?

Clarissa said...

"I find it very amusing, Irish, that you're quoting the dictionary to a college professor. A professor of literature, at that."

-It's not nearly as funny as proposing Nietzsche as the paragon of morality to a feminist.

To quote what Irish's favorite philosopher has to say about women:

"And finally, woman! One-half of mankind is weak, chronic- ally sick, changeable, shifty - woman requires . . . a religion of the weak which glorifies weakness, love and modesty as divine: or better still, she makes the strong weak - she succeeds in overcoming the strong. Woman has always conspired with decadent types - the priests, for instance - against the "mighty," against the "strong," against men. Women avail themselves of children for the cult of piety . . ."

Clarissa said...

Kyle: according to this logic, if antisemitism exists outside of academia, then there is no point of withdrawing university's support for organizations that promote antisemitism as one of their core values, right?

"you haven't shown that it's more likely to happen on the basis of fraternity than on the basis of alma matter, or, for that matter, religion/race/ etc."

-No, it isn't more likely. But it's just as horrible.

Clarissa said...

More from Nietzsche on women: "Are you a slave? If so, you cannot be a friend. Are you a tyrant? If so, you cannot have friends. In woman, a slave and a tyrant have all too long been concealed. For that reason, woman is not yet capable of friendship: she knows only love. In a woman's love is injustice and blindness towards all that she does not love. And in the enlightened love of a woman, too, there is still the unexpected attack and lightning and night, along with the light. Woman is not yet capable of friendship: women are still cats and birds. Or, at best, cows. Woman is not yet capable of friendship. But tell me, you men, which of you is yet capable of friendship?"

It's kind of weird that anybody would propose to a female academic that she abandon her moral code for the sake of one created by a guy who thought women were, at best, cows.

Maybe it would have served Irish better to read more and spend less time on fraternity-related activities while he was in school.

Kyle said...

So you're saying that promoting one on the basis of common affiliation is "just as horrible" as antisemitism? As promotion according to race or ethnicity? So we shouldn't pay so much attention to the way that Jim Crowe marginalized African Americans because the bigger, real problem was people promoting their buddies? Isn't this forcing notions of identity and identity politics to its reductio ad absurdum?

If you really believe this argument, and your comment indicates that this is the only thing you can find wrong with Greek institutions, then the crisis that worries you is one that requires far greater action than the elimination of Greek life. It requires a massive system of intrusive laws enforcing strict meritocracy, that anybody who looks in a pile of thousands of applications and says "I already know that these three individuals have done great work so I'll start with them" commits something equivalent to a hate crime. I'm with you that pure meritocracy is preferable to more personal standards of evaluation, but it's unattainable, and the pursuit towards it requires much, much more than the elimination of Greek life. And even if you think that the Greek system is wholly damnable on these grounds, would it matter that the majority of affiliated individuals don't get hired by people from their sororities or fraternities? If your primary concern with Greek life was about meritocracy when you wrote this post instead of 100 comments later, then don't you have bigger fish to fry than a sororities and fraternities?

Anonymous said...

I live in a sorority on a campus considered a "party school" in my state. I went through Rush and Initiation and am a full member of my sorority. I also have never been drunk, have been to only one party, get straight A's, and am a member of the marching band. No one in my house has belittled me for my choices, in fact they say more power to me. I am not alone, my close circle of friends inside the sorority that I hang out with all the time also abstain from drinking and partying. That is not what being in a sorority is all about.

I joined my sorority because I know that the friends I make here will be my friends for life. If I am ever in trouble, they will be here for me. Is that possible with someone you room with in the dorms? Sure. Of course. But here, eating dinner together, having late night talks in the laundry room, discussing our favorite books, it just feels different. I have a ton of friends in the dorms, and I visit all the time, but the vibe there is different. The dorms are just some place to stay while you are learning for 4 years. My sorority is my home. I say I'm going home to grab something and my dorm friends look at me with envy that I can call the place I live my home. I have sisters. I have family. This is why fraternities and sororities are an important part of college life. This is why more Greeks graduate than non-Greeks. They have a reason to come back every fall. Their sisters and brothers are here.

Clarissa said...

"So we shouldn't pay so much attention to the way that Jim Crowe marginalized African Americans because the bigger, real problem was people promoting their buddies?"

-"Bigger"? "Real"? Please show to me where I said anything similar. Unless you show me a quote from me where I say that nepotism is "the bigger, real problem" than racism, I see no point in continuing this discussion.

You have no idea how often it happened to me on this blog that people would say "Or you are saying that [some monstrosity they imagined completely on their own]" and then spend weeks condemning me for this offense that exists only in their imaginations. I'm really tired of responding to such weird, baseless accusations. I have no interest in talking to people's strange projections. The same goes for your suggestion that nepotism should be treated as "hate crime." I never proposed anything similar and I refuse to be accused of any such silliness. Give me a quote where I said "nepotism is a hate crime", or do not expect me to respond to any more baseless accusations.

Clarissa said...

It's beyond insulting that in response to a question "what's the point of fraternities" people would end up accusing me of supporting Jim Crow. It's even worse than the time I was accused of being a homophobe on the basis of my criticism of airport searches.

I am very angry right now.

Kyle said...

Woah, take it easy. Nobody accused you of supporting Jim Crowe. I did imply that you trivialized it, however, when you described promoting a similarly affiliated candidate as "just as horrible" as racial discrimination in employment hiring. Given that this tendency (hiring people according to similar affiliation, be it a Greek institution, a common alma matter, a similar previous employer, etc) happens almost infinitely more than hiring according to race, you would logically have to see it as a far worse problem that requires far greater preventative action, no? I'm obviously not saying that you don't think that racial discrimination isn't absolutely horrible; I am saying that your logic doesn't follow (and, if you took this logic seriously, you would have to follow it to some problematic conclusions). Unless you no longer think that this sort of hiring is "just as horrible"? While you're reevaluating your saying that it's "just as horrible," I'm still curious about what's so inherently awful about a voluntary association of students as a Greek institution?

Kyle said...

Sorry, ignore my triple negative. I wrote, "I'm obviously not saying that you don't think that racial discrimination isn't absolutely horrible." I meant to say that I don't think you consider racial discrimination to not be a problem.

Pen said...

Are there statistics that can support your claim that more Greeks graduate than non-Greeks, Anonymous? Because I'd like to see it.

profacero said...

Irish, watch your tone.

Good info V, and good points brittanyannwick.

How did so many Greek system defenders come to this thread and why are they so vehement?

D said...

Pen - here ya go:
"Playing varsity sports or joining a fraternity or sorority doesn't hurt your chances to graduate from college on time. Just the opposite, actually. Those extracurricular activities may help according to a new study from Washington State University."

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128654975

And here's another:
"Fraternities and sororities have members active in campus life, in clubs, student government and sports. They tend to be more connected to the university, have better graduation rates than the rest of the population and give more money as alumni, according to research, said Breanne Scogin, assistant director of Greek leadership and chapter standards at the University of the Pacific in Stockton."

Read more: http://www.modbee.com/2008/06/22/336507/students-area-greek-life-isnt.html#ixzz1DKwVCcXw

Perhaps so many of us come to this thread because we're sick of being tarred by the same brush that applies only to a slight minority of our own. There's also the lame stereotyping that's existed for so long in the media; maybe it's time for those in academia to try an objective analysis for a change.

Kyle said...

Pen, I googled "Greeks more likely to graduate than nongreeks" and found a number of statistics from university and greek-affiliated websites. To be fair, while one reason for this may be the structure and support system the institutions provide, the more likely reason is that students who can afford dues are financially less likely to struggle with tuition.

profacero, I can't speak for others, but I'm a fan of this blog and like a good argument when it comes up. I realize that Greek life has a bad image, and plenty of its members don't do their institutions justice. But, given the way Greek life has benefited me and most Greeks I know academically, I don't think the problem on campuses is Greek life. It seems like the issues that face Greek life are faced by undergrads as a whole; if that's true, then solving those problems doesn't mean laying blame on Greek institutions. But that's just my take.

profacero said...

@ Kyle, I'm not actually anti-Greek, although I'm not one. I'm just saying, there WAS a reason these societies were established, and they're about as old as the university system itself.

Irish said...

Clarissa, Brittanyannewick, profacero, et al.

I have no idea what kind of professor Clarissa might be if at all and do not care. Alphabet soup behind your name means not much. My sister has a degree in English Lit from Yale too, and a PhD from Duke, and presently teaches at Wake Forest. So what?

If you will review my comments, you will see that I entered this discussion sharing honestly and openly about the benefits I received from membership in a frat, and offering positive examples to counter what I perceive to be negative stereotypes. It is very frustrating then to find my words parsed to support an obviously preconceived conclusion. I included a convenient quote illuminating my point and instead of a substantive reply I found myself ridiculed that Nietzsche is my favorite philosopher.

Clarissa, you write very well. But I had hoped to find some intellectual integrity to go with your academic prowess. Although disappointed thus far, I continue to be hopeful which is why I returned. In a debate, the party with the great debating skills usually prevails, but it does not follow that they are correct. The goal should be truth, not simply to prevail.

BTW, Kyle is quite correct in that fraternities and sororities are self-supporting. They are not subsidized by university funds. So that much of your conclusion is based on disinformation. At my university they are not even allowed to access student life enrichment funds available to non-Greek clubs and activities due to pressure from anti-greek faculty members.

Irish said...

Brittanyannwick
I am blown away that you feel the 'requirement' for community service negates the value and importance of it. Allow me to offer a paradigm shift: The true value of community service cannot be understood until one actually experiences it. In addition to reflecting well on the greek organization and the institution, it exposes young people to something of great value they may not yet have experienced. Which is kind of the whole point in college.

Lindsay said...

I feel bad for People who think like you...all my my friends are in Greek life on campus, and there 0 tolerance for hazing...many are committed to community service and yes, there are some bad seeds but for the most part they are the nicest and most open people I have met. How dare you judge some you have obviously no experience with. I'm also a YSU student, and this horrible tragedy shouldn't give you a platform to express your hatred toward other people and clubs that you know NOTHING about. RIP JJ

Pen said...

D, only one of those websites had any merit. The source of the second had no objectivity. This isn't surprising, though--most of the websites I've encountered on the subject aren't objective at all. University-affiliated statistics don't always give the big picture, either.

Kyle, you have a point. Many people who join Greek life have more money. And while I'm sure that many Greeks are perfectly nice, the people who've specifically told me their plans to go Greek aren't nice at all. (Then again, every single one of them is currently attending the same wealthy private school.)

Somehow, I don't think that my non-participation in Greek life (and I do have reasons beyond my own dislike) will affect my graduation at all. I know what I want to do, and I've got five years to make it happen.

The way some people are arguing on this thread is that going Greek is the only good option in campus life (probably because this is what they've experienced themselves). This is where I laugh and mention that at any one school I've applied to, only about twenty percent of students are actually involved in Greek life. So you can't tell me that I'll be horribly deprived or that my graduation date will be later than normal, or even that all my job opportunities will be lost. No one can even make the argument that I'll miss out on volunteer opportunities--anyone can volunteer, not just members of a Greek house.

brittanyannwick said...

Irish,

Please, stop twisting other's words. You would have done well to focus more on your academics in college rather than your fraternity. Perhaps you would have better debating skills. Perhaps you'd have learned that you cannot cherry-pick quotes from someone to support your argument, then cry foul when other quotes are pulled out from that same person, making you look a fool. It's all about context--which brings me to my next point.

Community service is a good thing. If you are, however, doing it because the social organization that you paid thousands of dollars to associate with makes you, you cannot claim that volunteer service makes greeks better than the independents. Especially if you're trying to make it sound as if said greeks are naturally better, and that community service is done out of the good of one's heart. That's offensive to the many student who do much good for the campus, for the community, and for the world, often without any recognition whatsoever, which seems to be the goal of any greek service.

I've done much community service--much more than simply asking someone to come to campus and work on behalf of my organization, while members of my organization stand there in t-shirts with my organization's name on it, to look pretty and take the credit. I did it to serve my community and my country--and to enable me to serve more once I got older. I didn't need a social organization pushing me to do it. Too bad that service in itself wasn't enough for you.

Also? Greek organizations are not wholly self-supporting. At my university, student government had a large budget, most of which was to be allotted to student clubs and organizations. I served in student government. Fraternities and sororities got money from student government. The money that student government got came from a student fee taken from every student enrolled at the university. Greek houses sit on university property. Soon, every greek house at my alma mater will be sitting on property taken by the university from low-income families by eminent domain. Spare me your crap. Spare those displaced families your crap.

brittanyannwick said...

Anonymous? A friend of mine who joined a sorority said the same thing, about "sisterhood" and "friends for life." Until, however, two popular sisters got her dead drunk, took her keys, phone, and wallet, and dropped her off at an apartment where some fraternity boys lived. She woke up the next day terrified, not knowing where she was, who those strange men were, without any way to contact anyone or get away. She brought up charges within the sorority. Now? Half of her "sisters" and "friends for life" hate her guts. They spread rumors. They sabotage anything she does that they may. They and their friends harass her at any opportunity. There are many at the university that hate my friend who have never met her. She's still in the sorority, so help me, but she spends more of her time with the "pot head fraternity" referenced above, because they are one of the few greek orgs that didn't buy into the crap that her so called "life-long friends" told them.

I was also a Resident Assistant in my time at my university. I take offense, Anonymous, at your assertion that dorms are simply holding places for students. I, the other RAs, and the Hall Directors devoted much time to make the dorms a friendly, welcoming, SAFE place for students to live. I sacrificed 40 hours a week in my year as an RA, getting paid only for ten of them, for my residents. The halls, the common areas, even the laundry rooms were gathering areas for students to hang out, to study, to make friends and meet partners. The residents even asked us to make a t-shirt depicting one of the dorm's legends, so they could proudly show that they were a part of the family. I still wear that t-shirt, though I haven't lived there in three years.

All this to say, I believe friends are better found, kept, and loved when you don't have to pay for them.

Irish said...

Brittanyannwick

Your accusations are unfair and unfounded. Calling me a chair does not make me a chair. I'm HAVE NOT been cherry-picking and spinning other people's quotes to prop up my arguments. Please show me where I did this! Where I have quoted others, I quoted complete sentences and did so to make a direct response to their statement. I'm not the one saying 'see, so and so makes my argument for me'. Please show me where I have done so, if you can.

I don't believe that being a greek makes one somehow better than a non-greek. That is absurd. I don't think I have said that at all.


And I don't claim that said community service is necessarily done from the goodness of the heart. I believe that without outside influences (ie 'a requirement'), greeks and non-greeks would perform community service in equal proportions.

My point is that community service requirements in greek societies is a GOOD thing, for many reasons. And there is nothing wrong with greek organizations touting this as something of value.

These requirements DO MEAN that the percentage of greeks that are exposed to the benefits of community service is much higher than the undergraduate population at large. This should be obvious since ALL the greeks must perform service, and the u/g population at large has no such requirement. I believe that this will have a statistically-positive benefit to the overall community and that a greater percentage of the alumni population will engage in philanthropic activities later in life than would otherwise be the case simply by virtue of the fact that more have been exposed to it.

How can this be a bad think?

Irish said...

Opps. I meant to say thing.

All engineers tend to be functional illiterates at times.

Displacing existing residents adjacent to land-locked universities is a problem all urban campuses face and has no merit as a condemnation of the greek system.

Pen said...

Would now be a good time to point out that philanthropy has to do with the giving of money, and volunteer work has to do with the giving of time and effort?

As such, contributing to a cause philanthropically has no correlation to the amount of volunteer work one does. I can volunteer all my time, and be exposed to community service all day every day, and in ten years, if I don't have the money to spare, I won't be contributing philanthropically. Which skews your accidental correlation quite a bit.

Greeks tend to contribute more financially because they often begin better off financially than others. It has nothing to do with the amount of volunteer work they are required to while attending college.

Irish said...

Pen,

You are quite correct. I misused the term philanthropy when I intended to mean the donation of personal time and effort. As I as stated before, the true personal value of community service cannot be realized until one actually performs community service. So it stands to reason that the more people who are exposed to community service, the more people will recognize the value of it and continue to perform it.

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