Fraternities under fire: Is it time to limit Greek life on campus?

In the last few weeks, fraternities have come under fire for hazing, alcohol abuse and sexual assaults, raising questions about their continued presence on college campuses.

Ten days ago, West Virginia University suspended all Greek activities on campus after a freshman found unconscious at a fraternity house died two days later. Police are still investigating what happened to 18-year-old  Nolan Michael Burch.

The most recent campus to sanction its frats is the University of Virginia. But that suspension may be lifted. The decision by UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan came after a searing Rolling Stone about a brutal rape during a frat party two years ago.  The story, “A Rape on Campus,” depicted a culture where sexual assaults are downplayed to protect the UVA brand.

Now, however, Rolling Story is expressing doubts about the reliability of the young woman “Jackie” who is the source of the allegations.

In a note to readers, the magazine said:

In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced. We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.

In an attempt to change the nature of  frats, two Connecticut campuses, Trinity College and Wesleyan, now require fraternities to allow women to join, following the lead of Swarthmore, which adopted the policy last year. Dartmouth eliminated pledge term.

Several elite New England campuses, Middlebury, Colby and Williams, have no frats on their campuses. Amherst has now banned its students from joining fraternities.

Several studies have found frat members are more likely to commit sexual assaults: (Bleeker & Murnen, 2005; Boeringer, 1999; Foubert, Newberry & Tatum, 2007).

Writing about his study in the NYT, researcher John Foubert said:

In my research, I found that the fraternity experience itself makes men more likely to commit sexual assault. While this finding needs replication — it was one study on one campus — there is cause for much concern. Little concern about such findings was shown, however, when I presented this data at national fraternity conventions. There remains a lack of commitment in the fraternity community to meaningful education on rape prevention.

This indifference extends to other issues involving fraternity members: compared with their male peers, fraternity members are more likely to believe, for example, that women pretend not to want to have sex but want to be forced into it, and that women enjoy being physically “roughed up.” (Boeringer, 1999.) Fraternity men have also been found to have more pornographic posters hanging in their rooms (Bleeker & Murnen, 2005).

There is a lot of research on drinking and Greek life. In “Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities,” the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found fraternity and sorority members are far likelier than non-Greeks to binge. Sixty-four percent of Greeks report binge drinking, compared with 37 percent of their classmates.

But in his research, Jeffrey DeSimone suggests frat members would likely drink with or without the fraternity; it is the prevalence of alcohol in frat life that attracts pledges in the first place. “Students who join fraternities presumably perceive that membership will facilitate desired binge drinking by matching them with students who share these preferences,” wrote DeSimone.

 

 

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80 comments
moral decay in society
moral decay in society

joining these fraternities and sororities is a free pass for sex, booze, drugs and free free everything.there is definitely a moral decay in society and these "so called clubs as an excuse to bang and drug and exploit anything and everything should have been banned years ago. if I had ever found out my son/daughter was thinking of getting involved in any of these moral decay encouragement, he or she would be told you want to play? then pay for your own damned so called education, and  I would gladly follow thru.   positively disgusting, and some of these teachers are nauseating, teaching communism and worse,  should be fired or better yet not hired in the beginning, our youth deserve better.

popacorn
popacorn

Tell us how life works, oh great teacher talkers. Though we amuse you, we come seeking truth.Your perception surely supercedes ours. 

Lexi3
Lexi3

@ Maureen 13 days ago: "I also find the comments on journalistic standards amusing as most people here then cite their own experience to determine the value of Greek life. If it was good for me or my kids, it's good. Wish life worked that way, but it does not."


très amusant maintenant, madame?

popacorn
popacorn

Lol. Whoda thunk it? Makes one wonder about the envious, low IQ, male-hating 'women' that spew on this blog. It kills them that the whole UVa crap was manufactured by yet another psycho-freak feminazi. Ban them from the blog!

Lexi3
Lexi3

"The decision by UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan came after a searing Rolling Stone about a brutal rape during a frat party two years ago.  “A Rape on Campus” depicted a culture where sexual assaults are downplayed to protect the UVA brand."


White males at elite schools are not entitled to the presumption of innocence in progressive grandee circles. "Alleged" only belongs in a story when Michael Brown is alleged to have strong armed robbed a store keeper [on video tape]. And some wonder why the Progressive "brand" and its enablers are on the skids. Journalistic ethics and standards?

Lexi3
Lexi3

How about banning sloppy journalism on the web, including that practiced by storied newspapers morphing into oblivion?


The story, like the Duke rape story, was hokum which gained currency because the real target was white male privilege. To those feeding the fires truth is immaterial. Betcha when it's finally retracted very few will admit shame. RS is sorry if anyone was hurt. UVA students were smeared and all Greek houses were condemned. All social functions were suspended. President Sullivan bears a lot of responsibility for this disgrace and owes UVA a debt she can never pay. She ought to resign. 

Astropig
Astropig

Fraternities Under Fire- Is It Time To Ban Sloppy Journalism On Campus?


This would have been a better headline.

bu2
bu2

Now Rolling Stone is saying the girl's story has serious discrepancies.

http://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/Rolling-Stone-casts-doubt-on-U-Va-rape-story-5937797.php


The school also had suspended activities at all campus fraternal organizations because of the story.

The statement posted on Rolling Stone's website and signed by managing editor Will Dana said only that those discrepancies in the woman's account became apparent "in the face of new information." It does not detail that information.

The fraternity issued its own statement refuting the woman's account, which detailed a Sept. 28, 2012 party at the Phi Kappa Psi house. The woman said she was led upstairs by her date, who then orchestrated her gang-rape by seven men. The woman said her date worked at the U.Va. pool, and she quit her job as a lifeguard so she wouldn't have to see him after the alleged rape.

However, the fraternity said in its statement a 2012 list of employees at the Aquatic and Fitness Center did not list any of its members as a lifeguard. It also said it had determined none of its members worked there in any capacity at the time.

The fraternity also said it had no social event during the weekend when the woman said the rape took place.

Squirrel_Whisperer
Squirrel_Whisperer

Who is raising these young men to think that it is okay to drug young women so they can have sex with them? So they can pass them around to their buddies and everybody take a turn? Who is raising these young women to think that it is cool/sexy/smart to drink themselves unconscious? So they can lie in a bed/on the floor while the above young men treat them like garbage?

class80olddog
class80olddog

One interesting point brought up by the articles on this subject:  so a freshman girl wants to party and drink - where does she go - she can't go to a bar, she doesn't know upperclassmen to go to a private party, she can't even buy alcohol - so she goes to the only place she can drink - the frat houses!  And the frat houses supply the alcohol, why?  So they can score some sex!  And everyone knows it and still people go there.  So why not lower the drinking age so that college girls can go to a local bar and have a drink with friends and don't have to compromise their honor by going to a frat house.


One of the big reasons I never contribute to MADD anymore.  I am enthusiastically against drinking AND DRIVING, but not just against drinking.

class80olddog
class80olddog

If the President of UVA wanted to be fair about it, rather than just shutting down ALL fraternities, start policing and if you find any fraternity serving an underage drinker, ban THAT fraternity for a year!

class80olddog
class80olddog

I agree with some that the drinking age needs to be lowered back to 18.  However, this begs the question of why drinking cannot be policed at fraternity gatherings, since underage drinking is against the law.  Have the police show up at every party and ask for IDs and card anyone leaving.  Any alcohol and off to jail.

class80olddog
class80olddog

I sent two daughters to college and I told them this:  remember, for college boys, "Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker".  I told them that some college boys would use alcohol to get sex from them.  They never mentioned anything happening to them, but it was always a possibility. 


Girls need to go in pairs, and avoid alcohol that was prepared out of their sight.  Bring your own if you must.  Don't trust anyone, including your date.  For heavens sake, don't get so drunk you don't know what you are doing.


If you get raped, go immediately to the police and insist on photos taken and a rape kit being administered.  Rape involves sex and violence - if you cannot prove both, you are probably going to lose. 


Sorry, women, this is just the truth.  Rape is such a difficult crime to prove if you don't have substantial bruising and evidence of sex.  Don't come forward making accusations two (or forty) years later - there is absolutely no proof unless you have a video showing the crime.


Bill Cosby is accused of rape forty years ago.  Did he do it?  Who knows - there is no PROOF.  So by our criminal justice system, he is innocent.


Same with those UVA students - they are innocent until PROVEN guilty.  We don't have any proof that the rape that was reported even took place.  If it did, I want the perpetrators arrested and sent to jail.  But that does not seem to be an option, since it was not immediately reported and crucial evidence collected.  Girls, if you do not report immediately, you are condemning another girl to the same fate!  I want justice, but there has to be proof.

Tcope
Tcope

Thank you sir may I have another.


If you have a daughter that is going to college, you need to have a serious conversation about binge drinking and it's consequences. I went to a college with no Greek life and we had women that were abused when they drank themselves into a stupor. If you don't get smashed at a college party your chances of assault are reduced dramatically.

DeaconBlues
DeaconBlues

No, it's not time.  A well-written article in RS.  I think that the people charged with providing safety and - dare I say - leadership should first lead the way out the door. Sheep will stray and get lost without an attentive shepherd.  Sheep will get devoured by wolves if the shepherd is inattentive to his responsibilities.  Banning Greek life throws too many good people into the wolves' den, of which I dare say aren't voluminous in number, but seem so by the the depraved indifference and nonchalance practiced in their seedy, miserable lives.  A strong administration would cull the unwieldy parasites, and provide a safer - and more learned - environment.  

Intteach
Intteach

Indifference and ignorance is rampant. Unless it happens to someone close to us it is not that bad or even the girl's own fault. Empathy seems to be completely missing! Rape needs to be prosecuted by a court of law every single time. It should not be up to the colleges to handle rape "internally".

maryjga
maryjga

I wonder if Jameis Winston is in a fraternity?  

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

How about teaching them ethics and the penalties expected for certain actions? They can start with our Governor!

Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

@RoadScholar 

Better yet, how about they start with the POTUS...even the AJC "Politifact" columnist calls him a liar in today's AJC print article!

Lexi3
Lexi3

@RoadScholar  So, you have stories about our governor as a frat boy in college? Are they as choice as those of Bill Clinton in the Ark. governor's mansion?

PJ25
PJ25

Let the rich kids buy their friends. 

Lexi3
Lexi3

@MaureenDowney  "Please try and [sic] do so before commenting. It will help explain the extraordinary outcry from the UVA community. 


I've read the story in RS, as well as the UK Daily Mail, as well as the e-mails we get from the UVA president (Sullivan). Again, there is no excuse for rape and, if the report is true, the violators should serve prison sentences. However, there is still a presumption of innocence ingrained in our judeo-christian society and system of laws, and the fact that the accusation is made doesn't make it true. Remember Duke lacrosse? Punishment first, then trial.


From what I hear (and we have close kin at UVA), there is no widespread "extraordinary" outcry over the greek system, and no modest sized movement to disband it. Only a willingness of most to let the investigation runs its course, without a circus atmosphere.

Reality Check here
Reality Check here

@MaureenDowney Incidentally, Rollingstone doesn't rank very highly on the credibility scale as far as I'm concerned. For a much more insightful look at how colleges are treating sexual assault read "Mishandling Rape" by Jed Rubenfield in the New York Times November 15.  of course, that might not suit your purposes, Maureen, because it doesn't lay the blame at the feet of the fraternity system.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Reality Check here 

I have read the NYT piece. In light of not only UVA but all the other schools listed and many more that I did not list that are also questioning the role of frats in creating a culture that promotes drinking and sexual misconduct, this is an issue worth discussing. 

In writing about education policy at the state and national level since 1997, I have had at least six college presidents tell me they were questioning whether frats belonged on their campuses due to the problems, especially related to alcohol. 

What is interesting to me about a lot of these comments is college represents an incredible expense and the focus ought to be on the education quality of the institution. Anything that impedes academics or creates diversions from the college's No. 1 mission of quality education ought to be on the table for discussion.



Reality Check here
Reality Check here

@MaureenDowney @Reality Check here  I started college in the 60's and there were many college presidents who were just as anti fraternity then as now. They were entitled to their opinion but there were plenty of us who are highly educated who thought they were wrong then and think they are wrong now. The fraternity I was in had high standards and the members had higher grades than the college as a whole. That was true at a number of the fraternities and the percentage of fraternity members who went on to exemplary careers speaks for itself. Emory did a poor job of providing social opportunities outside of the fraternities and administration tried to blame the fraternities for that failing with no success

.

Your message is not fresh. It wasn't new 50 years ago.

bu2
bu2

@Reality Check here @MaureenDowney 

That was a terrible wandering article even by RS standards.  Looks like a newbie journalist trying to copy their style.  The only thing to be learned from that article is what all college age women should know- travel in pairs.


The problem isn't the fraternities.  The problem is that rape isn't taken seriously as a crime.  Not by police.  Not by colleges-see recent sports related incidents at Florida St., Notre Dame, Missouri and Montana.  Not by many young men.

Reality Check here
Reality Check here

@MaureenDowney  I read the Rolling Stone piece and to me  it is more an indictment  of the UVA administration than the fraternity system. if what the article describes actually happened it is truly repulsive, but even more repulsive is that the UVA administration clearly created an environment in which it is difficult to hold someone accountable. When the student finally told the story to the dean, UVA's response was tepid at best. They didn't call in the legal authorities to address the matter. That is a disgusting failure as far as I am concerned and the "extraordinary outcry' from administration is sheer hypocrisy.

Before you start indicting the whole fraternity system for the alleged acts of criminals start with the adults who are supposed to be in charge and hold them accountable for not involving the police.

mensa_dropout
mensa_dropout

Even as an old person, I agree with the poster that suggested lowering the drinking age.  Lower the age, raise the penalty for abuse such as driving drunk, public drunkenness.  The more liberal in the group always suggest looking to Europe, so let's do that:  lower the drinking age and teach moderation and responsibility. Then our college kids (and they are kids) might  be more judicious in their actions.

Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

@mensa_dropout 

They tried that back in 1972 here in GA (it was already 18 in some states for beer and wine, like NC where I went to college in 1971) and it must not have gone over well since a few years later the NATIONAL law became age 21!

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

What's really scary is how thinking like Maureen's used to go unchallenged.  The "mainstream media" decided the message, and the public went along.  


Sure is a lot more enjoyable to see how social media has destroyed that power.  Loving the pushback in the comments section from those who realize how amazingly stupid this idea is....as if we should ban anything that has a few bad apples.


Lets see.....churches, teachers/schools, boy/girl scouts, etc.  Wow, we'd be left with.....nothing.  Yeah, that'll sell in with the general public.  Too funny.  Again, so encouraging to see how the general public no longer just "accepts" this BS.

styymy
styymy

College cost too much damn money for an atmosphere such as this.

mensa_dropout
mensa_dropout

Maureen,

Why don't we just ban everything?  If we go down that road, then we should ban football, baseball, basketball, MARCHING BAND!  Remember the stories of hazing in marching band????

Sheesh. 

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Is it time to ban Greek life on campus?

No! It's time to prosecute rapists on campus.

It's also time for young women to move beyond this nonsense:

Sipping from a plastic cup, Jackie grimaced, then discreetly spilled her spiked punch onto the sludgy fraternity-house floor. The University of Virginia freshman wasn't a drinker, but she didn't want to seem like a goody-goody at her very first frat party – and she especially wanted to impress her date, the handsome Phi Kappa Psi brother who'd brought her here.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119#ixzz3JztnFSnY 
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

Reality Check here
Reality Check here

So it takes an article in Rolling Stone to get the UVA president all riled up. Why didn't she do something before?

jd1
jd1

And those involved in greek life have higher GPA's than the average student.  That's another fact, oops, it doesn't fit with the narrative here. 


The governors of these states are going to have to get involved and root out some of the worthless administrators and professors at these state schools.  Pretty much every campus has a grievance department of some sort that needs eliminated so that the kids will actually get a degree in something they can use to actually earn a living.  These people are dedicated to "professing" their social view of the world, and I'm surprised it took them this long to make this attack.  The truth has more to do with the people making such "studies" were outsiders from their experience in college and want to "profess" a different social view of the world, and will force it upon those who don't willingly comply.  If you don't like it, don't join.  If you don' t like it, don't go to parties or events at their facilities. 

MoFaux
MoFaux

@jd1 Ever heard of "word"?  It sure helps to boost your GPA when you get to look at 5+ years' worth of tests by the same professor, especially if it's the "easy" professor who barely changes his/her test questions.  More time for partying!

GuyOnThisSite
GuyOnThisSite

You're punishing entire groups (my frat and school has nothing to do with this frat at UVA) for the actions of people they have nothing to do with.


People who join Mosques are more likely to become terrorists, but I don't think we should ban Mosques because of that.


Here's an idea...  Lower the drinking age to 18, so the parties come out of the shadows and can hire real security rather than having to do everything secretly.

fatleo
fatleo

@GuyOnThisSite we tried lowering the drinking age - it didn't work.  Here's an idea .. raise the drinking age to 27 or 30.  Most college students, even idiots, have graduated or left by this age and should know enough about life to now drink - if they choose.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

I have been writing about alcohol abuse on colleges for 25 years, and all the studies are consistent on the higher instances of drinking and binge drinking among fraternities and sororities. Look them up.

I also find the comments on journalistic standards amusing as most people here then cite their own experience to determine the value of Greek life. If it was good for me or my kids, it's good. Wish life worked that way, but it does not.


By the way, there are several good studies on why frats have an outsized influence on campus culture even when they are not the majority. And the reason is they set the social stage and are the source of underage drinking.


And here are other stories on banning frats for further review.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/24/rape-sexual-assault-ban-frats


http://www.newsweek.com/inside-colleges-killed-frats-good-231346


https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/09/30/should-colleges-ban-fraternities-and-sororities


http://www.slate.com/articles/life/inside_higher_ed/2014/11/fraternities_should_greek_parties_be_banned_or_will_it_push_problems_off.html

Lexi3
Lexi3

@MaureenDowney  So, scold some writers for setting up anecdotes as evidence of the general, then print anecdotes to show journalistic acumen. Fact is: the entire universe of members of Greek organizations is the sum of its members' anecdotes of their experiences. Whether a few selected make a reliable sample is a different story.


Question: Slate, The Guardian and Newsweek are serious scholarly publications when? Answer: when cited to bolster weak arguments.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

I personally am not a fan of the "Greek System", however, I do not think this issue is necessarily one that should be laid at the feet of frat houses.  The manner in which the young men mentioned in this piece treated women is reflective of a more widespread breakdown in society.  We no longer seem to have respect or concern for each other.  It is all about what WE can get out of the system.  Everything needs to revolve around US and to heck with everyone else. There sees to be little regard for the other or the community as a whole.  It is all MY way or the highway. This lack of empathy and concern has pervaded our media, our politics and our policies.  Just take a look at the comments on this one article, as well as the article itself?  Do they not lump people into single categories for the sake of deriding and dismissing them? Greeks, feminists, liberals, journalists? 


It will literally tear us apart if we do not take steps to control these dividing forces.