What's your opinion of fraternity?

Oh . . . so you think my stereotype is bigoted . . . but is it really bigoted to believe that fraternity men are more likely to commit sexual assault than other men on campuses?

Because that’s my opinion, and it is supported by studies, observation, and experience. Is that the “bigoted” stereotype? Or is it something else?


It is a bit off the topic of sexual assault, but do you see why it might bother non-greek students that fraternity members provide this sort of advantage to their “brothers?” I’ll probably be called a bigot for saying so, but this is the sort of thing that makes people believe that fraternities exist at least in part to circumvent attempts to make opportunities (in and after college) more equitable and to preserve the “good old boy” way of doing things.

Just be clear, what you are quoting is from the study I linked. I quoted it because the conclusions interesting, but I agree that not all fraternity chapters encourage or create an environment conducive to all 3 things. But many do, and we are talking about greek life as a whole rather than about particular “brothers” or houses. Generally, fraternity/greek life has tended to encourage and/or create a culture conducive to such things as compared to non-fraternities. I really don’t think that this is in serious dispute.

I agree. If the original question was “What is your opinion of the culture of male college athletics?” we could be having a very similar conversation. But I don’t see this as being particularly redeeming with regard to fraternities.

Again I agree. But IMO schools haven’t all that successful in so doing. It turns out that, oftentimes, the social structure of greek life makes it very difficult to meaningfully reform.

This what I find most interesting about this recent period of anti-greek sentiment, as well as the movement to ban such organizations: Much of it is coming from within the fraternities and sororities. Members who would like to see reform have come to the conclusion that, within the social structure of greek life, meaningful reform isn’t going to happen, and that it may make more sense to get rid of it all together. See this article, for example. The War on Frats - The New York Times

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In terms of potential recruited student athletes avoiding colleges where their sport’s team has poor behavior, there may be fewer ways to find that out about that than at those colleges which publish fraternity chapter conduct records, GPAs, etc… That the potential recruited student athlete has to commit to the college and therefore the team before arriving there is one reason why it is a more difficult situation than with fraternities, where a student can choose whether or not to join a fraternity and which one if so after gaining some familiarity with them after arriving on campus.

This is no different than any close knit social group. You help your friends. It just so happened that this fraternity attracted a good share of very career minded kids – maybe because they weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths. Like it or not, networking/creating relationships is a valuable life skill.

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I understand what you are saying, but let’s be realistic, not many college kids are “close knit” friends with 50 year old hiring partners at IB firms, or even with younger associates at such firms. But thanks to fraternities, they can do one better, they can be brothers. One big happy extended family. It’s the “good ol’ boy” network in action.

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I was not referring to that situation. This was upperclassman or recent grads helping underclassmen understand the recruiting process and describing their summer or current job situation.

Having actually worked (and been involved in hiring) in a Big Law firm and and a bulge bracket IB, the impact of the old boy’s network is greatly exaggerated. These businesses are driven by one thing, profits. If you are not generating them, you are gone pretty quickly. When hiring, we always hired based on proven experience or educational achievement if entry level. The only type of old boys network that I encountered were friends or clients asking me to consider their kid or friend for a job. If their resume looked like they were qualified, I would put them in the general pile of candidates to consider.

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Ask brothers and pledges at the fraternities at Dartmouth and similar schools whether they think/hope it will get them a leg up for desired jobs. That’s part of the draw.

Anyway, here’s a 2013 article on the subject.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-12-23/secret-handshakes-greet-frat-brothers-on-wall-street

And the discussion here.

I’d say their hopes are misplaced. The GPA cutoff for the top IB’s and consulting firms is like 3.7. Doesn’t matter what handshake you know. They would also have to assume that someone in a position of hiring power is a “brother”. The statistical probability of that is miniscule. It’s a better and more reasonable bet that you choose a feeder school, like Dartmouth, in the first place if you get in if that is your desired career path. I’d agree that there are institutional advantages. A 3.7 kid from Dartmouth is likely to have an easier (but not guaranteed) path to Goldman Sachs or BCG than a 3.7 kid from Rutgers for a variety of reasons. Some may view it as a manifestation of entrenched privilege, others that it is a practical screening device for businesses.

The Bloomberg article is behind a paywall, so I cannot react. I can only relay what I saw and what I know from friends and colleagues in the business. But the conversation digresses. My initial point was that not all fraternities create an environment that encourages anti-social predatory behavior and there are a lot of smart, ambitious and social kids in the Greek system. My son had a positive experience as he made many good friends he might not have ever met. As all friends do, they help each other.

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I think this thread shows that much of this debate is really about power. There are few things more innate to humans than their desire to impose control on others around them. Dictating to others who they can and can associate with is a pretty strong expression of power.

I guess we are not stopping with fraternities.

You and others seem intent on treating a statistical correlation as a personal accusation, but it is not an attack on every single fraternity house and member to note that, statistically, men in fraternities are more likely to commit sexual assault than other men on campus.

And while I agree this discussion is about attempts to impose power and control over others, I find it ironic that, in a conversation about the power dynamics of sexual assault on college campuses, you view fraternities as the real victims.

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Thanks. That was an insightful post. My son is considering rushing a fraternity down the line; I’ve often wondered how they work at rigorous schools.

Thanks. I fear that the one thing I got most right was “I don’t think this will change anyone’s mind”

I would encourage you to look at the individual fraternities at your son’s school. They, like colleges, can be quite different, and what is right for one person can be very wrong for another. Again, like colleges.

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That’s the approach I’ve counseled, though I told him that waiting for spring was probably best so he gets better acclimated to college and gets to know the reputations of the different fraternities.

I didn’t go Greek when I was in college, but it was something I considered at one point.