“The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”

Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas

Friday, November 03, 2006

Are fraternities worth it?

OK, read just the first few lines of the latest story about fraternity hazing allegations...and then tell me this is a positive college activity in which your son should participate...

ORLANDO, Fla. -- School officials investigating an apparent hazing ritual at a fraternity house on the University of Central Florida campus in which pledges were found in diapers, fairy wings and women's panties told Local 6 News that there is evidence that several of them may have been sexually assaulted.
University police, acting on a tip, said they noticed loud, aggressive screaming and moaning coming from the SAE fraternity house.
"At first, students would not let police into the fraternity house because they said they were performing a ritual," Local 6's Louis Bolden said. "Apparently, that ritual included male students dressing up like women and drinking until they had to be hospitalized."
The report also said the officers found a man wearing a pink tank top, women's underwear and a blond wig who was lying on the floor and vomited several times. Another male was sobbing on the floor wearing a rainbow-colored wig and a diaper, the report said.
Officers said the common area had a strong smell of urine and vomit.

What are the lame rationalizations parents, seeking their former college coolness through their kids, use to justify encouraging their kids be "Greek"...?
1. "Greeks make better grades on average than independent students" -- over all that may be true but the average is "C" is it not? That's supposed to be impressive, that Greeks make high C's? I'm sorry but being made to consume life-threatening quantities of alcohol is not worth a guarantee of high C's...for straight A's, why sure. But not C's.
2. "Greeks make life-long social contacts which can help land coveted jobs." Oh, well I stand corrected. Who wouldn't want to work for a sadistic, latently-homosexual man who when we were in college together, made me wear women's panties and stuck hot-dogs in unmentionable places...yeah, that's worth it. If you're too stupid to get a job on your own merits, you deserve the life-long humiliation of the experiences of fraternity hazing.
3. "Greeks" raise more money for charities than any other collegiate organizations." So what? Charity fund raising is a requirement for chapter charter of the national Greek orgainzations as well as mandated by most school administrations as a requirement for official campus recognition. If your kid is that serious about charity fund-raising, there are plenty of student organizations that raise funds for charities but who don't require them to submit to sexual assault before passing the hat.
4. "C'mon, fraternity hazing is a harmless right-of-passage for a young man. It'll make a man out of him." No, military basic training will make a man out of him -- and it doesn't involve cured meat products in various orifices.

"But Ed", you smugly point out, "wasn't it you who dismissed the Abu Ghraib torture as harmless fraternity hazing? Gotcha!"

Right you are, but there is a difference. In college you have innocent kids away from home for the first time, wanting to belong to a group with which they identify, being humiliated, near death sometimes, at the hands of peers. At Abu Ghraib, those wild-eyed, crazed jihadists would slash the throats of every American they could get their hands on. And, they had done something bad to end up in prison in the first place. Besides, my point wasn't that the torture at Abu Ghraib was OK. I don't think it was OK. It was that it didn't warrant the level of outrage with which hand-wringing liberals reacted.

My point...some sororities might be fine for daughters, but even some of them have their own problems with organizational alcohol abuse and some of the stuff they are told they must do with the frat brothers. That being said, if you encourage, and pay for, your son to join a fraternity, you must be OK with him ending up on the floor as one of those boys in the article...crying, naked except for panties, puking drunk from alcohol poisoning, sexually violated and near death. Under any other circumstances, you would be justified in killing somebody who did that to your son.

That OK with you?


Reid said...

Ed: You have gone way overboard on this. Every time an airplane crashes people die. They do so unwillingly, and some are sent by their parents. But truthfully thousands of planes fly safely daily. My point is that thousands of fraternity chapters exist without any physical hazing. I am a fraternity member. I was never beaten, made to wear womens clothing, I was not forced to consume mass quantities of alcohol, drugs, or sexually abused. That did not go no in my fraternity, nor in most of the other fraternities at Auburn.
Yes thee have been some "bad apples" at schools, and yes their will continue to be kids that make stupid choices and try to force some other student to do it as well. That stupidity process, however, is not limited to the fraternity circuit. It exists in football teams (Colorado), lacrosse programs (Duke) and even in the US congress ( Mark Foley/ Bill Clinton/ etc.) So lets cut the crap about the ftatenity issue here.

Now, it is extremely unfortunate that these young men decided to pursue this course of action, and that innocent victims suffered through it and because of it - on that we agree. However it sems that UF students always manage to lower the bar to new depths. This school is known "partying", the local bar is named "The Library" for obvious reasons. I think this best needs to reported and blogged as a sadistic and stupid choice by a few fraternity boys that went extremely bad, but does not need to denegrate the entire fraternity system. That would be like discovering that some university researcher was forcing students to do these same things, and then trying to condem all univesity reseach as flawed and done by deplorable people - you and I both know that is not true.

Ed said...

What fraternity did you belong to, the Baptist Student Union? At my school, every single fraternity got in trouble for hazing at one time or another. Every Fall, during hell-week, there were stories from all over the country about students doing degrading, stupid things in order to belong to the fraterity.

I will admit that there may be some fraternities who do not engage in hazing, but how do you know which ones they are?

All my best friends were Greek in college and they told stories of their personal hazing rituals. Unbelievably humiliating stuff. I'll tell you some of the stories some time but not here since this is not an X-rated blog.

As the father and stepfather of college-bound boys, it concerns me when I read stories like this. That's all I'm saying.

Ed said...

Reid, your air-travel analogy is not exactly analogous. (Air-crash disasters are wholly accidental, while fraternity hazing is intentional) Let's for argument's sake say that 1 in 50 (probably a low estimate) fraternities engages in humiliating, dehumanizing hazing rituals after every fall rush. The air travel analogy would have to say that on 1 in 50 flights there are gangs of people who abuse the passengers for the duration of the flight. Sending your kid to the airport under those circumstances, not knowing which airlines allow in-flight hazing would, to me as a parent, be risky. I would have to look into bus tickets...the collegiate equilavent of the Baptist Student Union or chess club.

I was going to suggest the ping-pong club but I've heard that those Chinese hazing rituals are pretty harsh.

Reid said...

I am a Sigma Chi. I am a life member of the alumni association, and therefore receive the monthly newsletter from National. I have not read of any hazing related issues at any of our chapters. I will say that years ago there were some issues within the Sigma Chi umbrella, but that has been quelled.

All fraternities engage in mild forms of hazing, as does the math club, etc. Rights of passage should not endanger anyone. Was I abused? Absolutely not! Was I ridiculed, belittled and scoffed at? Absolutely so, but I would have received the same treatment, if not slightly worse from the ROTC guys at Auburn (that is according to my ROTC friends from those days). Fraternities will always be viewed from the outside as some cross between an Animal House, a roman orgy, and an all male cult. It is, however,different. We did not engage in wanton sexual misconduct (we wished we could on occassion with our female guests) nor did we all think and dress alike. We did many good things within the community, had some fun while in school, developed friendships and relationships that have lasted lifetimes. None of which are only limited to the fraternity system, these lifelong relationships just seem to prosper there. Call your friend Nat and ask him about SAE. He is one, and I am sure he would gladly tell you similar stories and benefits. To your last point - hazing being intentional. Not always. I have been aware of situations that started out innocently, and went sour where hazing became the brandname when all was said and done.

I had a fraternity brother die of alcohol poisoning during my days in school. Regrettably sad to see any 20 year old die, but this young man had a severe drinking problem fostered, not by his fraternity, but by his "other" friends. I watched him carried to his room after a night on the town, and was awakened by another fraternity brother trying to wake him. Alas he died while asleep or unconscious. Did my chapter suffer the slings and arrows - yes, but we took it all and kept our mouths shut, because no one wanted to know anything else and wanted a greek culprit. Are there bad things within this system yes, but I think there are always bad apples in every bunch. Will some other young man die somewhere because of stupidity like this - yes, but it still does not need to indict the entire greek system. Should we do away with college because kids are hazed? If so, isnt that an indictment of our educational system as a whole, and if so, isn't a slam against the United States of America... Well Greg, You can do what you want with us, but I will not stand for you tarnighing this country!

Oh my bad that was Animal House . See ya.

Ed said...

OK Reid, based on your enthusiastic defense of fraternities, I am prepared to back off slightly from impuning the entire Greek social system. There may indeed be some benefits from brotherhood enjoyed by guys and gals, and certainly not all memberships are based on tolerating hazing. That being said, from the perspective of an independent as I was, there seems to be something unbalanced about the need-to-belong, which compels a person to tolerate mistreatment.

I don't think sports hazing is any more acceptable. It's stupid no matter what the organization.

I know what's going to happen. My son will go to Auburn in six years and ironically, will want to be in the same fraternity you were in and I'll have to ask you for a recommendation...you know karma and all that.

Reid said...

I will gladly oblige your request for the recommendation. To look into your need to belong question, I can only speak for myself. I didn't need to, but actually enjoyed being around the guys in my fraternity. I visited many of the houses during my senior year in high school, and had good times around. I knew kids from my high school in many of the AU frats, but opted to join Sigma Chi where I virtually knew no one. My pledge class numbered 40, and I was initiated with 23 of those guys. Many things we did were childish and stupid ( Some were a lot of fun), I could not tolerate all of them now, but I can tell you that on my initiation day when my dad stepped up and placed my pin on me, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. I didn't even realize the bond we shared until 2 yeras later when I saw it happen from the other side. Hearing this father say "My son and my brother" is a bond that only few men can share. Since then I have a very different relationship with my father - closer and better.
By the way it is interesting to travel this country and to meet other Sigma Chi's and to know that we share a slightly different, but commn bond. Our fraternity was chartered under a set of values that are difficult to maintain, but sure leaves each of us constantly striving. While the greek system is not for everybody, it does have merit and gives its members advantages. During my tenure at school I cnstantly had appx. 75-100 guys that could be counted on for whatever. We had brothers get engaged, get married and have kids;we saw a brother die; watched proudly as a brother graduated #1 from Pharmacy school; enjoyed many football games tailgating and partying(lots of that); and even occasionally attended class and helped each other study/pass school; mostly we were friends and ultimately I don't think that you can ever have enough of those.
My college roommate was getting a divorce about 5 years ago and out of the blue he called to talk. Wespent about an hour on the phone and it felt like we had never missed a beat from school - only the topics were different.
I have rambled enough now, so I will bid all Godspeed. Maybe you now see fraternities slightly differently - I know I do.

Anonymous said...

wow, Reid surprised that you are Sigma Chi.

I am a sophomore in a university in Southern California and I found out for initiation, pledges had to make oral contact with the male genitalia.

the more you know =]

Buy Cialis said...

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Anonymous said...

Westboro Baptist Church protests military funerals so all Baptists hate America?

Anonymous said...

You damn geeds stay mad forever, quit holding a grudge because you didn't get a bid guy.

Anonymous said...

ed maybe next time u have a thought on write a blog on nothing u now about just let that thought go and this is why first hazing is illegal second wen u become a pledge u lern the history of the natinol/ international fraternity as well as the brothers and how to be a good man affter college

Anonymous said...

^ what?

Anonymous said...

^^Oh god, backing up fraternities with your grammar? I would be better off having a conversation with an illiterate.

Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact, just drink unreasonable amount of bleach to ensure that you don't produce offspring.